AfD Gains in Germany

For a political party that is less than 3 years old, their parliamentary gains are astonishing. From Bloomberg:

Germany’s anti-immigration party swept into three state legislatures on Sunday in its best showing yet at the polls.

The Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, had its strongest showing in Saxony-Anhalt with 22.8 percent of the vote, making it the second-biggest party in the eastern state, according to projections from public broadcaster ARD. The AfD won 14.1 percent backing in the southwest province of Baden-Wuerttemberg and 10.9 percent in Rhineland-Palatinate. The threshold to receive seats in 5 percent.

The AfD has widened its support with a visceral opposition to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy toward refugees following an influx of 1 million asylum seekers last year. With Sunday’s victories, the party will now hold seats in eight of Germany’s 16 state parliaments. In a newspaper interview on the campaign trail in January, co-leader Frauke Petry caused a public stir when she said German police are required to “prevent illegal border crossings, using firearms if necessary” as a last resort…

Of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union:

The chancellor’s problem is that polls suggested her party had a lock on all three states as recently as last fall, before the arrival of about 1 million asylum seekers in Germany last year upended the contest.

Of the wider implications:

The refugee issue is reverberating around the European Union, replacing the euro-area’s debt woes as the most significant in a series of crises chipping away at the EU’s political and economic cohesion. Bitter disagreements between capitals are stoking fears that border-free travel and commerce — one of the EU’s signature achievements along with the single currency — will be suspended. An associated rise in populism is eroding support for established parties across the bloc, making coalition-building increasingly difficult from Spain to Ireland.

The AfD, which has now won seats in eight of the country’s 16 regional assemblies, shows that Germany is no longer immune to the allure of right-wing populism.

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