Leader of anti-im­mi­grant party asks Merkel to re­sign

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

HANOVER: The leader of Ger­many’s an­ti­im­mi­grant AfD party, rid­ing a wave of pub­lic anger against Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s asy­lum pol­icy, yes­ter­day called on her to re­sign for throw­ing the coun­try’s doors open to mi­grants.

“Merkel, step down. You can do it,” Frauke Petry told some 600 AfD supporters, mainly grey-haired men, putting a new twist on Merkel’s “Wir schaf­fen das” (We can do it) mes­sage to those who doubt Ger­many can deal with the in­flux of mi­grants ex­pected to reach one mil­lion this year.

Petry, whose Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many is en­joy­ing an im­prob­a­ble re­vival af­ter nearly im­plod­ing in a power strug­gle, said her party stood a real chance of en­ter­ing three new state par­lia­ments next year and the na­tional par­lia­ment for the first time in 2017. Petry drew at least four stand­ing ova­tions with at­tacks on what she called Merkel’s un­demo­cratic de­ci­sion to open Ger­many’s bor­ders to mi­grants who are ex­pected to reach one mil­lion this year. Petry and Jo­erg Meuthen took over the AfD from Bernd Lucke, who in July left the party he founded in 2013 to op­pose euro zone bailouts, cit­ing a xeno­pho­bic shift.

The AfD placed third na­tion­ally, at 10.5 per­cent, for the first time this month in a sur­vey for poll­sters INSA af­ter polling at 3 per cent af­ter Lucke’s exit. It has been steal­ing votes from Merkel’s CDU con­ser­va­tives. The party pre­sented its plan to end what it de­scribed as “asy­lum chaos” at a sum­mit in Hanover. About 2,500 left­ist activists, some car­ry­ing ban­ners read­ing “Racism is no al­ter­na­tive”, staged a demonstration out­side the venue. AfD wants dras­ti­cally to re­duce the num­ber of refugees in Ger­many by re­ject­ing Syr­i­ans and Iraqis who come from “safe third states” like Tur­key and Le­banon, and turn down asy­lum ap­pli­cants with­out iden­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ments, among other steps.

It also wants to cut to 48 hours the pro­cess­ing time for asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions. Un­der Petry, the party has at­tracted far-right supporters and of­fi­cials, prompt­ing crit­i­cism from the Ger­man me­dia and politi­cians who szay it is xeno­pho­bic. Petry said her party was the vic­tim of a defama­tion cam­paign and called the me­dia “the Pinoc­chio press” and “Lue­gen­presse” (ly­ing press), a Nazi-era term which anti-im­mi­grant pro­test­ers have re­vived.

She added that the un­con­trolled in­flux of asy­lum seek­ers raised the risk of “terror at­tacks” like in Paris ear­lier this month. AfD won seats in the Ham­burg state as­sem­bly in Fe­bru­ary, en­ter­ing a leg­is­la­ture in western Ger­many for the first time, and has since also gained seats in Bre­men.

It pre­vi­ously had seats in Sax­ony, Thuringia and Bran­den­burg in east­ern Ger­many - where re­sent­ment against refugees is great­est - and is gain­ing fur­ther mo­men­tum na­tion­ally.

Its big­gest test will be the fed­eral elec­tion in two years. Some poll­sters be­lieve it will im­plode be­fore then, ei­ther be­cause of in­fight­ing or if the refugee cri­sis eases. — Reuters

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