Germany’s populist anti-establishment Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has called for tighter borders, a ban on the Islamic headscarf, and has promised to examine whether the country could ditch the euro currency.
The party, which is polling around 10 per cent and looks set to pick up its first ever seats in the German parliament later this year, has been highly critical of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handling of the migrant crisis, and has attacked the country’s “out-of-touch” elite.
The party’s election campaign programme, released this week, also stresses that Islam is “not part of Germany” and demands the “immediate closure of borders to end the chaotic mass immigration”.
It called for an official inquiry into Mrs Merkel’s decision to open the country’s borders at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, a decision that brought well over a million migrants into the country.
“We want to pass on to coming generations a country that is still recognisable as our Germany,” the party said.
Germany is expected to go to the polls in September, with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party currently neck-and-neck in the polls with the left wing Social Democrats.
The Social Democrats have seen a revival in their fortunes after selecting former European Parliament President Martin Schulz as their candidate for Chancellor.
Mr Schulz has launched what observers call a “social-populist” attack against the Chancellor, adopting an unashamedly leftist programme, attacking social and welfare reforms pushed through by the previous Social Democrat government.
“We have also made mistakes,” Mr Schulz told trade unionists, adding: “The important thing is — when we recognise we have made mistakes, they have to be corrected.”
Mr Schulz’s shift to the left may make it easier for his party to form a coalition with other left wing parties after the German election, potentially allowing him to oust Angela Merkel as Chancellor.