First, some telling numbers from Deutsche Welle:
The German daily “Bild am Sonntag” reported on Sunday that the populist right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has reached 10 percent for the first time in a recent poll.
According to the article, 17 percent of men would vote for AfD while only 2 percent of women would do so.
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, saw its support fall by 2 percentage points to 36 percent. The Social Democrats (SPD), the CDU’s coalition partner, came in at 25 percent.
That ten percent figure is twice the percentage points needed to win seats is the national and state legislatures.
The AfD began as a party of Merkel’s more conservative opponents who sought to distance the country from the European currency and loans to indebted nations of the common currency zone.
But the founders were ousted in an internal coup by those on the party’s far Right extreme, who then added a hefty dose of xenophobia to the party’s financially conservative agenda.
The party’s rise in the polls is linked to the increase in violence and sexual abuse associated with nation’s rising number of refugee immigrants from war torn nations of the Mideast and North Africa.
More from TheLocal.de:
Katja Kipping, chairwoman of Die Linke [Germany’s major Left party — esnl], told The Local that the Christian Social Union (CSU), a junior party in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, was to blame for the rise of the AfD, accusing their leadership of making “xenophobic slogans socially acceptable.”
The CSU, which are the single largest party in Bavaria, Germany’s wealthiest and southern most state, have in recent weeks called for the erection of border fences to stem the flow of refugees arriving in Germany.
“The AfD is also profiting from the impression that people in need could overwhelm a rich country like Germany – but this is a fictitious emergency: the relevant authorities at the federal level didn’t react quickly enough to the predictable rise in refugee numbers,” Kipping added.
And still more from the European edition of Politico:
Since World War II it was taken for granted that Germany’s conservative Christian Democrats and their Bavarian partners, the Christian Social Union, would not allow a democratic party to permanently exist further to their right. For decades, they lived up to that principle. But in early 2013, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) was founded as a home for conservative critics of Angela Merkel’s policies for saving the euro. The AfD narrowly failed to enter the Bundestag that same year by only 0.3 percentage points, then the party suffered a split one year later — but it came back.
As of today the AfD is a nationalistic, anti-establishment party which capitalizes on xenophobia and the ongoing refugee crisis. Opinion polls put its support at an amazing 10 percent, and it is on its way to entering the regional assemblies of the three Bundesländer scheduled to hold elections in March 2016.
That should be enough to send shivers down Merkel’s spine. But it will not. Instead, in the short term it promises to be a tactical win for the chancellor and her party. And in the long run, the AfD will either vanish as a political threat by splitting one more time, or it will turn into a potential partner to secure what would be a structural majority right of center — something entirely new to Germany’s political system.
The conclusion reached in that last paragraph betrays an astonishing ignorance of German history. Adolf Hitler assumed the chancellorship as part of a coalition government with the conservative and monarchist Deutschnationale Volkspartei [DNVP]. In other words, a government with “a structural majority right of center.”
Hitler came to power under the 1919 Weimar Constitution, which forms much of the basis of the current constitutional document, the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany.
While the new post-World War II document contains provisions designed to enhance civil rights and block a would-be dictator, Germany remains, as before, a parliamentary system.