Local elections were held in three of Germany’s powerful states. The headline from all 3 of them is the electoral breakthrough of far-right party AFD. AFD stands for Alternative Für Deutschland (Alternative For Germany). The party is a youngster on the German political scene. Being founded in 2013. Why are they worthy of big headlines?
Because it is the first real breakthrough of the far-right or as some term it dirty right since the fall of the nazis. Are AFD nazis then? No! They are indeed far-right in a more modern sense. Any actual nazi parti would be outlawed in Germany as has happened to plenty of such over the decades. What Alternative Für Deutschland is, is a populist party hammering home anti-immigration and anti-EU sentiments.
As such they can be compared to the Austrian Freedom Party, the Danish Peoples Party in Denmark, the Front Nacional in France which are similar anti-immigration and anti-EU political parties on the far-right, who all still work within the boundaries and rules of the established democracies. Equally, AFD does not seem to deserve comparison to actual fascist or nazi parties around Europe such as Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary or the Slovak National Party (Slovenská národná strana)
Election Results in Germany
Lets have a look a the actual results. The Germans went to the polls in three local states. But the results sent a message to all of Germany. Indeed, to all of the world.
Baden-Württemberg Election Germany
Grüne 30,3% – 47 (+11) Seats – (The Greens)
CDU 27,0% – 42 (-18) Seats – (The Conservatives)
AfD 15,1% – 23 (+23) Seats – (Alternative For Germany)
SPD 12,7% – 19 (-16) Seats – (Social Democrats)
FDP 8,3% – 12 (+5) Seats – (The Liberal Party)
Die Linke 2,9% – 0 Seats – (The Leftwing Party)
Rheinland-Pfalz Election Germany
SPD 36,2% – 39 (-3) Seats – (Social Democrats)
CDU 31,8% – 35 (-6) Seats – (The Conservatives)
AfD 12,6% – 14 (+14) Seats – (Alternative For Germany)
FDP 6,2% – 7 (+7) Seats – (The Liberal Party)
Grüne 5,3% – 6 (-12) Seats – (The Greens)
Die Linke 2,8% – 0 Seats – (The Leftwing Party)
Sachsen-Anhalt Election Germany
CDU 29,8% – 30 (-11) Seats – (The Conservatives)
AfD 24,2% – 24 (+24) Seats – (Alternative For Germany)
SPD 10,6% – 11 (-15) Seats – (Social Democrats)
Grüne 5,2% – 5 (-4) Seats – (The Greens)
FDP 4,9% – 12 (+5) Seats – (The Liberal Party)
Die Linke 16,3% – 17 (-12) Seats – (The Leftwing Party)
These results follow strong showing for Alternative For Germany in other local elections. However, these results really are spectacular. Almost a quarter of the vote in Sachsen-Anhalt and beating SPD in 2 out of 3 elections. The leader of AfD Frauke Petry will be celebrating tonight. Angela Merkel will not. This is a strong thumbs down from German voters to an open-door policy on immigration, a rejection of enthusiastic German support for a federal development of the EU and to some extent a negative vote of confidence on Angela Merkel herself.
Alternative For Germany in Power?
Are we gonna see Alternative For Germany in power? No! All other parties have sworn not form coalitions with AfD. At least for now. However, AfD have gotten themselves a strong wave of momentum and a powerful political platform ahead of the 2017 general elections in Germany. There is no doubt AfD are looking at an electoral breakthrough on the national stage next year too. They narrowly missed the 5% barrier at the previous elections in 2013 but are already polling consistently above 10% for the next general election.
Policy wise. What does the introduction of a far right political party in Germany mean? It probably has Angela Merkel considering a swing to the right. Her governing party CDU is bleeding voters to Alternative For Germany. She can try countering by arguments. Or she can try countering by approaching AfDs policy positions. As such, do not be surprised if Angela Merkel strikes a slightly less immigrant friendly tone in the coming month.
Do not be shocked if the chancellor chooses less enthusiastic messaging about the EU. Is it going to be enough to stop AfD? Judging from other European elections the clear answer is no. Alternative For Germany are very likely to get a thunderous victory in the 2017 elections in Germany, but are equally likely to be sidetracked by the traditional political parties in terms of influence. Nobody wants to touch Frauke Petry with an iron barge. But they will be scrambling to stem her tide. Even if it means copying significant parts of her rhetoric and policy.
Elections in Germany – Far Right AfD Won Big
The elections in Germany were a milestone. Not since the fall of the third reich has any far right party won any significant portion of the vote in Germany. Last night far right AfD won big.
Almost a quarter of the vote in Sachsen. Momentum. Plenty of media focus. By all accounts Alternative Für Deutschland is a new power to be reckoned with in German politics. And the “we will not work with them” tactic has been tried. And failed. In Sweden the Swedish Democrats of a similar nature as AfD have been kept from influence and kept growing as a result. In Denmark The Danish Peoples Party were labelled “not house-trained” and kept from power. Until the dam burst and they became perhaps the most influential party in the country.
What is the German political establishment going to do ? For now. They too will attempt the “unclean” labeling of AfD and hope they go away. In the 2017 elections they are likely to find out just how disastrous that tactic can be.