As the Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party — referred to by some as ‘Germany’s UKIP’ — continues to stake its claim to be the third party in German politics, it has suffered a spate of attacks on its offices, most recently in Berlin.
Overnight on Sunday, AfD offices near Berlin’s popular Tiergarten park were vandalised with graffiti, reports Deutsche Welle. The anti-mass migration, Eurosceptic party’s building was spray-painted with slogans including ‘Nazis Out’, ‘Refugees Are Welcome’ and ‘No Person Is Illegal’, and its glass facade was damaged.
The latest attack comes after last week’s incident at the office of AfD Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Beatrix von Storch, which saw it being smeared with black paint and having three windows damaged. Shortly before that incident, three shots were fired through the window of the party’s branch office in the west-German town of Arnsberg.
The recent attacks have come just as the party, which was only founded in 2013, has begun to show signs of a potential electoral breakthrough in this year’s state elections.
After coming close to breaking the five per cent electoral threshold to enter the Bundestag soon after its founding in 2013, AfD won seats in the 2014 European Parliament elections where it sits in the European Conservatives and Reformists Group alongside British Conservative MEPs. More recently, the ongoing migrant crisis and recent events such as the sex attacks on New Year’s Eve in Cologne and elsewhere in Germany have prompted a potential breakthrough in domestic politics.
In the weekly INSA/YouGov poll asking how respondents would vote were there federal elections next Sunday, AfD has consistently recorded third place since the second week of January. Having first broken through the 10 per cent mark in November last year, it now appears to be establishing its position above the Left Party and the Greens by regularly posting results in the 12 to 13 per cent range.
Such results suggest the party will enjoy further success at state level in this year’s elections, building upon representation it already has, and propel it towards Bundestag seats in next year’s Federal elections. However, with popularity and electoral success comes greater scrutiny and opposition.
In a recent interview, party leader Frauke Petry (pictured) said a border guard “must stop illegal border crossings, and also make use of his firearm if necessary”. In reply Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel — leader of the centre-left Social Democratic Party of Germany — called for AfD to be put under surveillance by the German government agency that tracks extremists.