What could be another in a list of troubles for the ruling Angela Merkel-led coalition, Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) is now the second-largest party in the country, according to a recent poll. The poll in question, an INSA opinion poll suggests that AfD, Germany’s largest opposition party will have 17% of the vote, over Merkel’s coalition partner, the Social Democrats.
And while Merkel’s party itself still is the largest party, the Conservative vote share seems to have fallen from 33% during last year’s election to 28.5%, according to the INSA poll.
According to many national and international observers, the recent right-wing protests in the city of Chemnitz, in eastern Germany have not only latched on to growing sentiments of anti-immigration, xenophobia and Euroscepticism in the country but, have also boosted the AfD’s popularity in the country.
The poll comes amidst a growing list of crises for the ruling coalition in Berlin. Chancellor Angela Merkel has over the past few months struggled to keep her coalition together after disagreements with the cabinet over the European refugee crisis. In July, the issue threatened to tear the coalition apart after disputes with the German Interior Minister, hailing from Bavaria’s CSU. It took a compromise between the two, a deal which included a stricter interpretation of the Dublin convention and the promise of transit camps at the border to settle cabinet dissension.
However, this has done nothing to nullify popular sentiment that has been fuelling AfD’s rise in German politics. The AfD, bolstered by right-wing support from Hungary and Italy have been vocally and often, violently critical of Angela Merkel’s ‘open-door policy’ for immigrants, a policy which they claim to have contributed to economic stagnation and increasing criminal activity.
Many observers have been suggesting that the government put members of the AfD under surveillance, under a domestic law that allows doing so. Considering the history of the country under the Weimar Republic and Nazi rule, such a move may not be unexpected or unprecedented.