Germany has comfortably remained majority left-wing for many years. Because of their history, they have shied away from far-right conservatism/nationalism. With the re-election of Angela Merkel as chancellor for her fourth term, we have seen that trend has begun to change due to right-wing groups vehemently opposing her policies.
The far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is quickly gaining traction politically. Since its founding in 2013 and its official place in the German Parliament in 2017, the party has now become more and more legitimized.
Last year, AfD received 12.6 percent of the votes during the election season, translating to 6 million votes. AfD currently has 94 seats in the Bundestag, making among the top three parties with the most seats in the Bundestag.
However, a recent poll of 1,035 Germans by the German news service, Tagesschau, reflected AfD is now polling as second, with 18 percent of the votes (186), with the majority party CSU/CDU receiving 28 percent. This may seem insignificant now, but AfD has seen consistent growth.
Since its founding in 2013, it has seen its membership nearly double on their website from 17,687 to the most recent count of 31,000. Most members are also donators. Their federal funding has also increased due to the amount of seats they now hold in the Bundestag. In short, not only is their constituency growing, so are their coffers.
AfD has mainly grown their platform by promoting anti-immigrant and anti-refugee rhetoric. Specifically, they oppose the 1.3 million immigrants and refugees that have entered the country since 2015.
In their own words, “Islam does not belong in Germany,” and “The AfD fully recognizes the freedom of belief, conscience and belief. However, it demands that the exercise of religion be restricted by law.” In the same breath, they say that “many Muslims live lawfully and are valued members of our society”.
The AfD believe that Muslims are “radicalizing” themselves, and that these radical Muslims are promoting Sharia law and facilitating terrorism. To practice Islam and follow the guidelines that the AfD lays out would mean that you cannot wear burka or niqab and that sermons must be in the German language.
The AfD actively promotes closed borders and does not want to see more refugee resettlement in Germany. Additionally, they want dual citizenship to be abolished.
“The AfD will not allow Germany to lose its cultural face due to misunderstood tolerance.”. The AfD fear that immigrants are going to take over and erase their culture. They are reframing refugee victimhood into German victimhood for political gain to support their racist and xenophobic beliefs.
The AfD is also anti-multiculturalism. They state that “multiculture is non-culture. It dissolves community and promotes the emergence of parallel societies. Permanent parallel societies very often lead to domestic conflicts and can ultimately even cause the disintegration of a state.” This is textbook ethnocentrism.
I could go on and on about their stances, which includes climate change denial. However, the AfD consider their stances rational and logical. They vehemently deny their views as being ethnocentric, xenophobic and islmaophobic. All 94 members of the party recently walked out of the Bundestag because they were being compared to Nazis and accused of using “tactics of fascism.” However, I can see some pretty blatant similarities.
The difference between the AfD and politics in our country is that the AfD is seemingly more truthful with their “critiques”. They do not hide their viewpoints underneath political correctness and subliminal messages as some of our politicians do. They are disgruntled by the way things have been going and now they want to do something about it.
They have begun to sow fear into the hearts of Germans when it comes to immigrants and refugees. They have painted them as dangerous and as welfare leeches, not unlike how far-right groups are doing here. The AfD is essentially arguing that immigrants are going to take over Germany until there is no Germany left.
It’s important as a United States citizen to pay attention to what is going on abroad. I often feel as if they are watching us, as we are watching ourselves. Far-right conservatism is creeping up in popularity worldwide.
It’s easy to pick on the United States. It’s easy for the entire UN to laugh at our president and to think that we are the country with the most issues. Some may think we are the only place that violates the civil rights of our citizens. Reality check: we are not. We are that friend that shouts about our issues, while our other friends around the world whisper. We need to listen to the shouts and whispers worldwide and work together to make this planet a better place.