Madeline Chambers, Reuters, October 2, 2018
The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) is poised to humiliate Chancellor Angela Merkel’s allies in an Oct. 14 vote for Germany’s most influential regional government, an election that could have far-reaching implications for national politics.
With blunt anti-Islamic rhetoric and attacks on Merkel’s migrant policy, the AfD is expected to muscle into the regional parliament in Bavaria for the first time.
That could help end one of the iron laws of post-war Germany: the near total domination of one of the richest and most populous states by a regional conservative party that has used its clout there to wield outsized national power for decades.
Polls point to the Christian Social Union (CSU) losing its absolute majority and securing only about 35 percent of the vote. The biggest winners would be the Greens and AfD on about 16 percent and 12-13 percent respectively.
“We will inflict pain on the big parties. That’s what motivates us. The chancellor has nothing more to give,” Wolfgang Doerner, a 57 year-old businessman and AfD candidate for the Bavarian assembly told a cheering crowd of supporters in medieval Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second biggest city.
If the polls are right, the vote will be a heavy blow to CSU leader Horst Seehofer, who props up Merkel’s coalition government in Berlin and serves as interior minister.
The AfD already entered Germany’s national parliament last year and has seats in all but one of its other state assemblies. But the Bavaria surge is particularly important because of the pressure that puts on Seehofer, and by extension Merkel.
Bavaria has been the gateway by which most of the 1.5 million asylum seekers who reached Germany in the past three years entered the country. The CSU under Seehofer has positioned itself well to the right of Merkel’s own national CDU party on immigration in an effort to beat back an AfD threat.
“We’re not a right wing party, we represent views shared by the majority of people on border controls and Islam not belonging to Germany,” said [Regional AfD leader Martin] Sichert, a 38-year old businessman who has a seat in the Bundestag lower house of parliament.
“We just speak the truth. I don’t want my country to go to the dogs, I don’t want it to go Islamic,” said 71-year Gregor, previously a CSU voter, who did not want to give his surname.