Home News Scandals and missteps slow Germany’s far right

Scandals and missteps slow Germany’s far right

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The far-right Alternative for Germany party is expected to have a banner year.

Not long ago, the party, called AfD, had a support rate of nearly 25% in national polls. As the general election approaches, European Parliament In three eastern states, traditional Republican strongholds, the GOP appears set to achieve its main goal of moving from the fringe to the mainstream.

Suddenly, the party’s future seems more ambiguous. It still holds a relatively high position – the second most popular party in the country. But lately, as members have been caught up in the In espionage and corruption scandals, secret discussions about deporting immigrants, and Extreme speechSince then, the AfD has faced growing opposition that threatened its progress in mainstream society.

German authorities have long officially classified the far-right party as a “suspected” extremist organization. The party’s constant blunders and scandals have forced it to abandon some important members and caused other far-right parties abroad to stay away from it.

“This past week was not a good week,” Alice Weidel, one of the party’s two leaders, said at a May 25 campaign event.

The AfD is feeling the effects. Last weekend’s local elections in the eastern state of Thuringia did not produce the landslide victory it had hoped for, though it still posted a strong result.

Now, with about a week to go before the European Parliament elections, the party’s prospects look somewhat shaky, but opinion polls suggest it could still win more seats than before in both the European Parliament and state elections.

“Some people who had switched to the AfD have changed their minds. But the far-right core is not going to disappear,” said Manfred Güllner, director of the Forsa Institute, a political pollster.

Perhaps in a sign that the Alternative for Germany camel can only carry so many straws, the party last week condemned itself by dropping its two leading candidates for the European Parliament elections from the campaign but not removing them from contention.

One of them is Maximilian Kra, who was recently interviewed by the Financial Times and Italian daily la republicain which he said not all members of the SS (Nazi paramilitary force) were criminals. Another suspect, Petr Bystron, is under investigation for receiving Russian funds.

Mr. Krah declined to comment for this article. Mr. Bystrom did not respond to a request for comment.

Even in a party known for its members’ unruly and ill-behaved ways, a lot has happened in recent months.

Krach’s comments come after weeks in the media spotlight after his aides were arrested on suspicion of spying for China and his own offices were raided, a stark reassessment for a party that prides itself on fighting corruption and ultra-nationalism.

In May, Thuringia AfD leader Björn Höcke was sentenced for using Ban on Nazi slogans In a 2021 speech.

But perhaps the party’s most significant scandal came in January, after Exposed Members of the Alternative for Germany party attend a meeting to discuss the mass deportation of immigrants, including naturalized citizens.

This news triggered Months of mass protests Millions of people across the country are against the AfD. Polls show Estimates show that support for the party nationwide has slipped from a peak of around 23% last December, hovering around 17% from 14%.

Benjamin Horne, a professor at Chemnitz University of Technology, said the party faced something of a strategic tightrope walk in order to regain momentum.

If it wants to extend its influence beyond its regional strongholds and achieve real power, it must appease its extremist core while broadening its appeal among centre-right voters.

“It’s a normalization strategy,” Mr. Horner said. “It’s trying to appeal to the middle of society but not to keep the right-wingers in a corner.”

That path has become narrower as former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party has moved to the right and risks losing voters to the AfD.

In addition, a new political party – Sarah Wagenknecht The movement, which blends populism and far-left politics, could also be a threat.

Some members of the AfD party were outraged. “The CDU now claims to offer a solution to a problem it created,” said Stephan Brandner, a senior AfD lawmaker.

The most vulnerable segment of the AfD supporter base may be voters who initially turned to the party — because of dissatisfaction with the government, or as a protest vote — but who are now losing interest because of the scandal.

“The AfD leadership is now fighting for this segment of the electorate,” said Johannes Hillje, a German political scientist who studies the party. “They need to be able to mobilize a much larger force than the far right.”

In Bavaria, The party has made progressAndreas Jurca, an AfD member of the House of Representatives, said he was now seeing people withdrawing their applications. He said about 10% of new applicants in his region had withdrawn their applications in the past few months.

“Last year we managed to join the middle class,” he said. “Now, their problem is not our status, but that we are seen as pariahs.”

Last weekend’s election in Thuringia offered mixed prospects for the future of the AfD party, which did not fare as well as expected in key seats such as mayor and regional leader, taking just 26% of the vote, just behind the CDU’s 27%.

But the party won a majority of seats in some city councils, a shift that could have a knock-on effect in the federal election, said Matthias Quent, a professor at Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences who studies the far right.

“This is a new dimension that will change local politics,” Professor Quint said. Putting AfD members in charge of daily life in Thuringia could increase the party’s legitimacy and have an impact on future elections. “The idea is normalization from the bottom up.”

Tatiana Firsova contributed to this article.

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