The anti-mass immigration Eurosceptic ‘Alternative for Deutschland’ (AfD) party is being banned from televised debates ahead of Germany’s local elections in March.
Peter Boudgoust, director of TV station SWR, said his company had taken the decision to exclude the party “through gritted teeth” after the top candidates for the establishment parties had threatened to boycott any debate involving AfD.
Instead, only the top candidates of parties already represented in the local parliaments will be allowed to take part, according to Der Spiegel.
Three German states, Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt, are holding elections to their parliaments in March, with AfD expected to make inroads as the backlash against the migrant influx continues.
The party’s co-chairman and leading candidate for Baden-Württemberg, Jörg Meuthen, called the exclusion an “attempt at blackmail” by the state’s governing parties, saying they have a “strange understanding of democracy”.
However, Mr Boudgoust said the main parties left his TV channel with no choice. “Blackmail is only possible if you have several options, but we did not,” he said.
The controversy comes amid falling support for Angela Merkel and Germany’s traditional parties, with one poll even indicating that Angela Merkel’s party has lost nearly half its support since the start of the migrant crisis.
According to a poll for Stern, 44 per cent of voters who backed Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats in the last election said they would not do so today, and only 55 per cent of her party’s supporters would vote for her if the chancellorship were directly elected.
In a general election, 37 per cent would vote CDU/CSU (down one since last week), 23 per cent would vote Social Democrat, while Alternativ für Deutschland and the Greens are on 10 per cent each.
Breitbart London reported in October how AfD supporters have popularised the term “Lügenpresse” (liar press) to describe Germany’s mainstream media, especially after newspapers from across the political spectrum feigned outrage when an AfD politician displayed the German flag in a TV debate.
Björn Höcker held up the flag while declaring a “deep love of my country”, leading to media outlets describing him as “confused”, “crazed” and “disgusting”. The German edition of the Huffington Post even compared him to Hitler.
The term “Lügenpresse” eventually gathered so much attention that a panel of linguists voted it ‘non-word of the year’ in Germany.