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German detectives say AfD party promotes extremism even as it places second in Merkel's home state

5.9.2016 18:01
In 2016 the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party used a car with a license plate referencing Adolf Hitler (the number 18) during its election campaign. (PHOTO:  Twitter/LINKEPELLI)
In 2016 the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party used a car with a license plate referencing Adolf Hitler (the number 18) during its election campaign. (PHOTO: Twitter/LINKEPELLI)

The Berlin-based daily Tagesspiegel reports that Holger Münch, head of Germany's Federal Criminal Bureau (BKA), says the "Alternative for Germany" party (AfD) is
contributing through its anti-immigration rhetoric to the bolstering of extremism throughout the country. Münch says racially motivated crime is on the rise in Germany, especially attacks on asylum-seeker accommodation.

"That party has made xenophobia acceptable to our society," Münch is quoted as saying about the AfD. In his view, the party's harsh invective against refugees is
creating fertile ground for adherents of the ultra-right who are under the impression that their actions are acceptable.

"Many instigators on the Internet have the feeling that their worldview is now part of the mainstream. That makes it easier for them to say radical things online. That
is dangerous," Münch said.

According to BKA data, ultra-right adherents have committed 705 attacks on asylum-seekers' accommodations so far this year, while roughly 1 000 such attacks were
perpetrated last year. "We are concerned that the number of attacks on asylum-seekers' accommodations will be similar in 2016 to last year and may even exceed last year," Münch said.

Just like last year, most of the assaults reported did not involve physical violence, but were instances of people shouting vulgarities at those accommodated in the
facilities or graffiting buildings with libellous words and Nazi symbols. So far this year police have reported 124 pysically violent crimes committed against accommodation facilities, 57 of which were arson attacks. 

AfD comes in second

The AfD first arose as a party criticizing the project of the common European currency for economic reasons, but after the European Parliament elections in 2014, its
wing of those opposed to immigration into Germany began to gain strength. The party has noted a significant rise in popularity thanks to the migration crisis, which
peaked last year, and on Sunday it came in second during the elections to the state parliament in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

The winner of that state election was the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which according to the final results received 30.6 % of the vote. AfD earned 20.8 % of the
vote, beating German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union by almost 2 %.

The state is Merkel's home region and the CDU's result Sunday was the party's worst in state history. The CDU earned 4 % fewer votes in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania than it did five years ago.

The Social Democrats also did worse compared to 2011, by 5 %. Nevertheless, the head of the state government will probably remain Erwin Sellering (SPD).

The AfD victory is the party's first time entering that particular state's legislature. The paty is now represented in a total of nine state legislatures in Germany.

This year's election campaign focused especially on migration, even though just 22 000 refugees live in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Apparently a large part of the
electorate considered the topic of asylum-seekers, 1.1 million total of whom entered Germany last year, to be very current, and experts say that by voting for AfD they have clearly demonstrated what they think of the federal coalition Government's migration policy.  

Migration and social justice are essential to AfD voters

The public broadcaster ARD television in Germany reported the analysis that for the voters of the AfD - which is being considered the actual victor of the Mecklenburg-Western Pomeranian state elections - the most important topics were domestic security, the economy, migration and social justice. The analysis also reveals that people who voted AfD are less educated than those who vote for the CDU or SPD.

Of those who voted AfD, 53 % said migration was the essential topic for them, while 47 % said social justice was. The economy and work were important for 26 % of the
populist, right-wing party's voters, while 26 % said domestic security played a role in their vote.

All AfD voters surveyed agreed that the party wants to restrict the number of incoming foreign nationals and refugees, and also agreed with the assertion that the AfD
speaks clearly about matters that other parties do not openly discuss. Practically all of the AfD voters (95 %) perceive as positive the fact that the party wants to
restrict the dissemination of Islam in Germany.

Fear over the number of refugees (a minimum of whom actually live in Merkel's home state) was expressed by 86 % of AfD voters, far more than any other party running in the northern state. Concerns about the number of asylum-seekers are held by 43 % of the CDU and SPD voters, by 23 % of Left voters, and by 21 % of Green voters.

AfD scored better than all of the other parties among manual laborers, the self-employed and the unemployed. The party also won more votes than other parties from
persons of low educational achievement (28 %), while lagging significantly behind the CDU and SPD when it came to voters with higher educations (15 %).  

German press:  Shock at the CDU's horrible results

German newspapers have written today about the results for the CDU in Merkel's home state as being catastrophic, a "chainsaw massacre", and a shock. "If you like
excitement, then what the AfD has committed against Germany's democratic parties so far can be described as a chainsaw massacre: They have carved away big chunks of the CDU, the Left, and the SPD," reported the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

That paper also reports that AfD took tens of thousands of voters away from the traditional parties in the state. "This is not a horror film, though. It's a challenge
to the parties who have lost some of their voters to become better, clearer, and more distinguishable from one another. German democracy has already survived many such alleged horrors just fine," the Bavarian daily reports, adding that it believes the AfD enjoys disseminating fear, but that it would not be good for others to become infected by them.

"The convinced, the fearful, and the frustrated have done it again, this time in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerainia. In the Alternative for Germany they have elected a
party that is not liberal, that is unfriendly to foreigners and to women, and they have aided the party with entering its ninth state legislature," the Frankfurter
Rundschau daily reports, reminding readers that the AfD will be the second-strongest faction in the northern state's legislature, with 20 % of the vote.

The party's success makes it the de facto victor of the election, as was noted by the Berliner Zeitung daily, which writes that last year the party skillfully changed its focus, turning away from the topic of the euro and dedicating itself to critiquing migration, thanks to which it succeeded in mobilizing voters. "Whoever is voting AfD today is not casting a ballot for an actually-existing party. This is a moody protest vote," writes the German capital's paper.

No other mainstream German party wants to govern together with AfD. In their commentaries, the German dailies also focus on the big failure of the CDU in Merkel's
political home.

Even though the CDU achieved its worst-ever results in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, it will probably continue to govern there together with the Social Democrats.
"After the election results in her home state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania it will be even less pleasant for Chancellor Angela Merkel. The catastrophic result of
the CDU and the great support for the AfD increases the pressure on her significantly inside her own party," writes the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung daily, which
attributes the CDU's electoral failure to its migration policy.

Even though there are practically no refugees living in the former East German state, dislike of the migration policy there has now been demonstrated. "Merkel's refugee policy has given so many people pause that it has acted like fertilizer for the growth of the AfD," writes the daily Stuttgarter Zeitung, which believes the AfD is primarily an anti-Merkel party.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Alternativa pro Německo, EURO, Germany, refugee, Volby, Xenophobia



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