Germany’s Traditional Parties Shaken As Far Right Surges

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is rising in the polls, with calls to curb immigration and curb the green agenda.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is growing in popularity and looks set to win three regional elections in the east of the country. The AfD strongly criticizes the German government for its immigration policy, which it wishes to end, as well as for the ecological transition which it considers costly.

The AfD garners between 17 and 19 percent of the vote nationally, near a record high for the party, which now vies with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats for second place in some polls, up from fifth place obtained in the 2021 elections with 10.3% of the vote.

This rise of the far right is not an isolated phenomenon, with other similar parties also gaining traction in Europe, such as France, Italy and Sweden, where they are now part of government. However, in Germany, this situation is particularly sensitive due to the country’s Nazi past.

German domestic intelligence services have called the AfD’s youth wing “extremist” and accuse it of spreading a racial view of society, as well as disseminating Russian propaganda about the war in Ukraine. Germany’s main parties have ruled out cooperation with the AfD to prevent it from entering government, but this raises concerns about the AfD’s possible influence on mainstream politics.

Anti-immigration and anti-climate

Immigration and the cost of the ecological transition are major topics in the German political debate. Some voters are concerned about the scale of immigration and question the benefits given to refugees. Moreover, the AfD has succeeded in attracting voters by expressing concerns about the high cost of the energy transition and challenging human responsibility for climate change.

The AfD’s rise is more pronounced in eastern Germany, where political loyalties are less established and voters tend to blame mainstream parties for the region’s continuing economic woes, even three decades after the reunification.

Even if the AfD fails to come to power, its rise affects political coalitions, forcing other parties to form more complex and less stable alliances.

Some observers believe that the rise of the AfD is linked to a wave of discontent due to a convergence of crises, such as inflation and high energy prices, which could subside over time. Supporters of the current government remain optimistic about their coalition’s ability to reduce support for the AfD by solving the country’s problems and improving the economic and social situation.

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