Michelle Martin, Reuters, March 9, 2017
The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party called for the country to get rid of at least 200,000 more people a year than it takes in, as it faces a plunge in its popularity before elections this autumn.
The target for “negative immigration” (“Minuszuwanderung”) would be necessary for several years, according to a draft election program the AfD released on Thursday, although it did not specify whether the quota would be met by migrants leaving voluntarily, by deportation or both.
At the same time, the co-leader of the AfD said he was not alarmed about plunging support in polls. Its support has dropped to between 8 and 11 percent from a high of 15.5 percent at the end of 2016.
Bitter infighting, a drop in migrant arrivals and a Social Democrat candidate who looks like a fresh alternative to Chancellor Angela Merkel have hurt its fortunes.
In its election program, the party criticized reducing Germany’s history to the Nazi era and urged a “wider view of history that also includes aspects of German history that have contributed to our identity in a positive way”.
The party also called for the introduction of a minimum quota for deportations, said the borders should be closed immediately to end “uncontrolled mass immigration” and said only qualified people should be allowed to come to Germany.