Populist right-wingers the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party have said that their recent success in a local election is “a sign that Frau Merkel should finally take the AfD seriously” as a force in conservative politics, EurActiv is reporting.
Tipped by some as the ‘German Ukip’ because of their ability to tap into the current dissatisfaction with the political classes with a right-of-centre message, the AfD secured a surprise result of 9.7 percent in the state vote in Saxony, nearly double the usual five percent threshold required to win seats (reported by Breitbart London yesterday).
The result builds on the success of the party in last May’s European elections, in which they won seven seats, and are expected to herald further gains in the eastern German state parliaments of Thuringia and Brandenburg later this month.
The party has seen phenomenal growth since its inception last year by disaffected Christian Democrats (CDU). Its rise has been mirrored by the decline in voter support for the right wing Liberal Free Democrats (FDP), the traditional coalition partners to Merkel’s Christian democrats. In comments that echo Cameron’s dismissal of Ukip, Merkel has so far dismissed the AfD as a far-right inclined fringe party. However, if the party continues in its ascension she may well have to rethink her approach.
Yesterday, some CDU party members urged the leadership to reconsider the current self-imposed ban on working with the AfD. but Merkel was unrepentant, saying: “My goal is to ensure they play a smaller role as soon as possible.”
The CDU retained power in Saxony with 39 percent of the vote and a significant margin over the Social Democrats and the Left party. The AfD pipped the greens to fourth place, knocking the FDP out of the legislature entirely. Also gone are the German National Democrats (NPD).
Frauke Petry, the 39-year-old businesswoman who headed the AfD’s Saxony election campaign called the result “a sign that Frau Merkel should finally take the AfD seriously”. She rejected claims that her party had sought previous National Party votes, claiming that her party’s policies were rather “once classic CDU and FDP positions.”
“It’s not the AfD that should ask itself where it stands, but the CDU that needs to ask whether it hasn’t become a left-wing party,” she hit back.
Earlier this summer the AfD’s representatives in the European Parliament joined the same grouping as the British Conservative party – European Conservatives and Reformists. The group stands for a radically reformed European Union, although it stops short of calling for the disbanding of the European Institutions altogether.