September 6, 2016 –
– By Vyacheslav Shcherbakov for Fort Russ – translated by J. Arnoldski –
“Stop warmongering against Russia” – a popular AfD slogan
Vyacheslav Shcherbakov is a candidate of historical sciences and professor at the Institute of History and International Relations at Russia’s Southern Federal University in Rostov-on-Don. He is a specialist in German politics, particularly right-wing movements.
On September 4th, 2016 elections to the Landtag were held in Germany’s eastern Mecklenburg-Vorpommern region which showed the real balance of political forces in the country. All the major parties that usually claim seats in the local parliament – the CDC, SPD, Left, Greens, and NDP – suffered serious losses. The Greens and NDP failed to win any representation in the Landtag at all.
But these lost votes and parliamentary seats did not disappear into thin air. They were won by Alternative for Germany, a party which has raised questions so uncomfortable and even “indecent” for the modern Federal Republic of Germany as the necessities of abandoning the Euro, opposing the increasing Islamization of Germany, and the migrant crisis.
This speaks to the fact that the problems which AfG focuses on are significant for all segments of the population. “Our future is our children, not immigration,” as the AfG slogan goes. The party, founded just three years ago and not even participating in the last Landtag elections, won 20.8% of the vote and 18 seats.
However, any radical changes in the policies of the regional government in the case of the “red-black” coalition being preserved are hardly possible. The SPD and CDU, having 45 seats in the last Landtag, still possess a qualified majority of 42 seats. The Social Democrats also consider the Left to be a potential coalition partner. As for Alternative for Germany, it will remain in the role of the opposition, seeing as how even during the pre-election campaign all the other parties ruled out the possibility of cooperating with these “right populists.”
AfG’s representatives themselves have announced the “beginning of the end of the CDU” and even consider themselves the “party succeeding CDU.” The conservatives’ seizing of third place in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern confirms Alternative for Germany’s claim to the role of the “people’s party” even though the SPD and CDU are still considered such.
On September 18th, 2016, elections to the Chamber of Deputies of the German capital will be held. The leading political parties of Berlin are seriously concerned by the results of the vote in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the potential outcome of electoral campaigns in the capital. SDP, CDU, the Greens, and the Left are united in their determination to “prevent another AfG triumph.” In turn, the “Alternatives” have stated: “The SDP, CDU, Greens, and Left have ruled our city for decades. The coalitions change, but the problems remain.”
In the regional elections, AfG shifted its focus from problems tied to various aspects of European integration and, first and foremost, a single European currency, to problems of education, families, and domestic security. One of the main provisions of their program is stopping the further Islamization of the country: “The fact that Islam has nothing to do with Germany and that we do not want to hear Muezzin calls five times a day in Berlin corresponds to our demands for higher security standards and the cessation of immigration chaos.”
The AfD’s success in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Landtag elections came on the heels of other successes in Saxony (9.7%). Thuringia (10.6%), Brandenburg (12.2%), Hamburg (6.1%), Bremen (5.5%), Saxe-Anhalt (24.3%), Baden-Wurttemberg (15.1%), and Rhineland-Palatinate (12.6%) from 2015-2016. That AfG will surpass the 5% threshold in Berlin elections is no doubt at all. The only question is what losses the traditional parties will suffer and what changes in the ruling coalition will follow.
The most important test for AfG will undoubtedly be the elections to the Bundestag. Little more than a year is left until the day of federal parliamentary elections in September 2017, which could fundamentally change the political character of Germany. Until then, the party needs to establish closer contact with the PEGIDA movement and demonstrate their regional parliament factions’ effective work.