Rise of New Far-Right Populist Party in Germany is ‘Nightmare Come True,’ Jewish Community Leader Says
The dramatic success of a new far-right populist party in local elections in a northeastern German state on Sunday is “a nightmare come true,” a German Jewish leader said on Monday, Germany’s The Local English language news site reported.
“It is pathetic when a party — in which xenophobia, antisemitism, racism, homophobia, historical denialism and conspiracy theories are the basis for argument — can become such a strong social and political influence,” Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, was quoted by The Local as saying about the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which beat German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party and came in second behind the Social Democratic party in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state elections.
Preliminary results showed that the Social Democratic Party won 30.6% of the vote, AfD received 20.8% and the Christian Democratic Union got 19%. The result was particularly embarrassing for Merkel as Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is her home state.
According to a Reuters report on the elections, the AfD, which was founded in 2013, has now won seats in nine of the 16 state assemblies in Germany. The report said the party has no chance of governing in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern as other parties have ruled out forming a coalition with it.
The Local said that Knobloch further warned that the AfD, along with other far-right parties, constituted a threat to Germany’s democratic foundations.
Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, was quoted as saying, “Clearly many voters are not aware or play down the fact that the AfD do not clearly distance themselves from right-wing extremists.”
The Reuters report cited a Bild newspaper poll that found AfD would win 12% of the vote — enough to make it Germany’s third largest party — if national elections were held next week.
As reported by The Algemeiner last month, the recent rise in support for far-right parties across Europe is being attributed to the Syrian refugee crisis, escalating Islamic terrorism and dissatisfaction with political elites.
“The refugee crisis speaks to a fear of aliens taking the native land,” Cas Mudde, a Dutch political scientist and an associate professor at the University of Georgia’s School for Public and International Affairs, said. “Authoritarianism is a reaction to the terrorism, and the connection made between refugees and terrorism. Populism plays into the European Union and its inability to deal with terrorism and the refugee crisis.”