Five keys to understanding the success of the far-right German AfD party

A man sympathizing with the AfD shows a sign during a demonstration on energy security and inflation that reads "They are enemies of the state!" and photos of various members of the Government, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in Berlin, on Saturday, October 8, 2022.

Berlin Germany – The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is rising in the polls and achieved its first two victories in local elections, something that has the other parties outraged. What defines the AfD and what does it propose?

The Alternative for Germany party is on everyone’s lips in the European country: survey after survey seems to confirm an increase in its popularity and recently obtained its first two positions after electoral victories.

Are two minor positionslocal, which nevertheless have a symbolic weight, since they broke a taboo in Germany and are generating a strong debate on how the other parties, and more generally German society, should relate or not to the AfD.

Here are five questions to better understand this controversial German party.

How did the AfD come about?

The AfD is a relatively young party. He has barely been in German politics for ten years. It was founded in 2013 by a group of 18 men – including businessmen, economists, journalists – united in their rejection of the policies of then-chancellor Angela Merkel in the euro crisis.

In the federal elections of that year, the AfD did not achieve the minimum number of votes to enter the federal parliament, but it did so in 2017 and ratified it in the 2021 elections. In addition, it is represented in 15 of the 16 regional parliaments.

The AfD currently has about 30,000 members. Its popularity has increased considerably in recent months. and in surveys from July 2023 around 20% in voting intentions at the national level, which has been described as a record for this party.

If you look at his popularity at the regional level, the percentages are even higher in the east of the country, where he may even become the main political force in the regional elections scheduled for next year.

Who votes for the AfD?

The AfD is described as a far-right populist party, but also as a protest party.

In a simplified way, it can be said that the AfD attracts those who are disenchanted by traditional politics. A June 2023 national survey revealed that 67 percent of potential AfD voters They do it not because they feel convinced of the party, but because they are disappointed in the rest.

However, it is also true that most AfD supporters feel that the party’s positions are close to their own views.

Likewise, this political formation attracts voters especially in moments of crisis and political uncertainty. In fact, it seemed to explain it one of the then party spokesmen a few years ago, when he was caught on video saying “the worse things are for Germany, the better they are for the AfD.”

A man sympathizing with the AfD shows a sign reading “You are enemies of the state!” during a demonstration on energy security and inflation. and photos of various members of the Government, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in Berlin, on Saturday, October 8, 2022. AP – Fabian Sommer

It is also a party that, in highly controversial ways, has managed to attract right-wing extremists. In fact, German intelligence has monitored this political formation and has described AfD groups, such as the youth, as confirmed examples of extremism.

Then, german intelligence he said that the youth “propagate a racial concept of society.”

What does the AfD propose?

The AfD can be considered, in a general way, a party that is against the majority gaze. This has been seen in issues such as the pandemic, Brexit or the election of Donald Trump.

But if there is one issue that defines the AfD, it is migration. The migration crisis that Europe experienced from 2015 helped to consolidate the party, which rejected the arrival of migrants as a threat to the security and identity of the country.

The AfD has managed to instrumentalize the fears of part of the population and has positioned itself as a party that calls for an immigration brake. 65% of their supporters also believe that the most important issue in their voting decision is immigration policy.

On other current issues, the AfD has also tried to find its niche. For example, in the war in Ukraine, the AfD has asked to favor peace negotiations over the shipment of arms. It is a different look from the German and European political establishment.

What are your main controversies?

There are few parties that have polarized as much in the last decade as the AfD. His supporters consider that the party “tells things as they are.” But his detractors assure that his positions border on the unspeakable.

An example is the historical responsibility of Germany after Nazism. Members of the AfD have been criticized for minimizing this responsibility, assuring, for example, that the monument to the victims of the Holocaust in Berlin is a “monument of shame” or describing Nazism as “bird poop” that should not tarnish “the most of a thousand years of successful German history”.

On migration issues, critics of the AfD consider that it promotes a nationalist and xenophobic discourse. Its members have opined on the possibility of shooting migrants at the border or sterilizing unaccompanied minor refugees.

A supporter of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party gives the Nazi salute during an anti-government protest, amid skyrocketing energy prices, in Berlin, Germany, October 8, 2022.
A supporter of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party gives the Nazi salute during an anti-government protest, amid skyrocketing energy prices, in Berlin, Germany, October 8, 2022. © Christian Mang / Reuters

But their controversies are also internal. In fact, one of the AfD’s main problems is the division between members who believe the party should be more moderate and those who feel more comfortable on the extreme. So far, the latter have prevailed, leading to the departure of founding members and former party leaders.

What do the other parties say?

While the AfD sees it as an “adrenaline shot” in German politics, its opponents see it as a threat to democracy.

They add that some of its members, with their radical positions, bring to mind some of the worst nightmares in German history.

Until now, the other parties have tried to isolate the AfD, creating what is known as a sanitary cordon or a democratic cordon. But some experts believe this may be at risk, especially after the AfD’s two local election victories.

Meanwhile, 43% of Germans consider that it is necessary to reject cooperation with the far-right party. But a third believe that it should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

In any case, the other parties continue to debate what is the best strategy to stop the AfD at a time when the far-right party has been able to capitalize on the discontent of many Germans.

Source link