Far-right party set to shake up Ger­man Par­lia­ment

Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many party could be big­gest op­po­si­tion force af­ter elec­tions next Sun­day

The Straits Times - - WORLD -

FRANK­FURT AN DER ODER (Ger­many) The first far-right party set to en­ter Ger­many’s Par­lia­ment in more than half a cen­tury says it will press for Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel to be “se­verely pun­ished” for open­ing the doors to refugees and mi­grants.

The Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD), which has also called for Ger­many’s Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter to be “dis­posed of” in Tur­key, where her par­ents come from, could be­come the third-largest party with up to 12 per cent of the vote next Sun­day, polls show.

The prospect of the party, which the For­eign Min­is­ter has com­pared to the Nazis, en­ter­ing the heart of Ger­man democ­racy is un­nerv­ing the other par­ties. They all refuse to work with the AfD and no one wants to sit next to it in Par­lia­ment.

The AfD could end up as the big­gest op­po­si­tion force in the na­tional assem­bly if there is a re-run of the cur­rent coali­tion of Dr Merkel’s con­ser­va­tives and the So­cial Democrats – one of the most likely sce­nar­ios. That would mean it would chair the pow­er­ful bud­get com­mit­tee and open the gen­eral de­bate dur­ing bud­get con­sul­ta­tions, giv­ing promi­nence to its al­ter­na­tives to gov­ern­ment poli­cies.

But lead­ing AfD can­di­date Alexan­der Gauland de­nies they are Nazis, say­ing others use the term only be­cause of the party’s pop­u­lar­ity.

The party has won sup­port with calls for Ger­many to shut its bor­ders im­me­di­ately, in­tro­duce a min­i­mum quota for de­por­ta­tions and stop refugees bring­ing their fam­i­lies here.

“We are grad­u­ally be­com­ing for­eign­ers in our own coun­try,” Mr Gauland told an elec­tion rally in the Pol­ish bor­der city of Frank­furt an der Oder.

A song with the lyrics “we’ll bring hap­pi­ness back to your home­land” blared out of a blue cam­paign bus, and the 76-year-old lawyer said Ger­many be­longed to the Ger­mans, that Is­lam had no place there and that the mi­grant in­flux would make every­one worse off.

Mr Gauland pro­voked out­rage for say­ing at an­other event that Ger­mans should no longer be re­proached for their Nazi past and they should take pride in what their soldiers achieved dur­ing World Wars I and II. The Nazis ruled Ger­many from 1933 to 1945, dur­ing which time they killed six mil­lion Jews in the Holo­caust and in­vaded coun­tries across Europe.

Dr Merkel may ap­pear to be cruis­ing to vic­tory in next week’s elec­tions, but her cam­paign ral­lies across Ger­many have been plagued by rowdy pro­test­ers who have been jeer­ing, boo­ing and even fling­ing toma­toes at her.

From the western univer­sity- town of Hei­del­berg to the pic­turesque south­ern city of Rosen­heim and the east­ern heart­land of Tor­gau, pro­test­ers bear­ing ban­ners say­ing “Get lost” or “Merkel must go” have sought to drown out the Chan­cel­lor’s speeches.

The un­ruly protests have jolted awake a snoozy cam­paign and tar­nished Dr Merkel’s im­age of in­vin­ci­bil­ity, even though her con­ser­va­tive al­liance is com­mand­ing a strong dou­ble-digit lead in opinion polls.

“The rage is not fu­elled only by Merkel’s refugee pol­icy, but also by pow­er­less­ness, from the feel­ing of not be­ing taken se­ri­ously by ‘them up there’,”weekly magazine Spiegel said.

Mr Timo Lo­chocki, a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst at the Ger­man Mar­shall Fund, said the anger had been “long in the mak­ing” be­cause the rul­ing coali­tion “does next to noth­ing to ap­pease these vot­ers”.

“Over the last three to four years, the anti-es­tab­lish­ment vot­ers, plus dis­il­lu­sioned con­ser­va­tives fed up with the euro zone res­cue and mi­gra­tion deal, are shift­ing more and more to the right,” he said – and straight into the arms of the AfD.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.