Monday 25 September 2017

Far right AfD is third largest party in Germany but faces opposition as one party chair quits

http://cdn1.spiegel.de/images/image-1193848-860_poster_16x9-wacw-1193848.jpg

The outcome of the German federal elections has rocked the country and has implications for anti racists and anti

fascists, internationally

There has been a dramatic breakthrough of the far right, Alternative for Germany,

the AfD. This ultra nationalist party, which contains a significant number of admirers of Hitler, has taken over 90

seats in parliament. This is a huge challenge to anti-racist politics in Germany and UAF sends solidarity to all German

antiracists and anti fascists.

 

It is the first time a far right party has won  seats in Germany since World War Two. The International Auschwitz

Committee has said that the “conglomerate of anti-Semites, enemies of democracy and nationalistic agitators

will bring inhuman coldness to the  Bundestag”, which of course sits in the former Reichstag building.

 

However, there was a setback on Monday for the AfD, as one party co – leader, Petry, stunned a press conference and

AfD leaders, by saying she would not sit with the party in the Bundestag.

Her actions show the tensions at the heart of the AfD as different far right groupings look to advance inside.

Fascists within the AfD have recently decried her leadership, despite Petry once arguing that police should be able to

shoot refugees trying to enter Germany!

Petry’s co-leader, Meuthen, and AfD key election candidates, Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel, have also

strongly opposed her.

 

There are increasing numbers of fascists in the AfD and the formation will prove attractive to fascists not already in it.

This does not mean of course,  that fascists, let alone the AfD, are on the verge of power. The AfD can be pushed

back, as happened for some time by anti racists opposing Pegida. The AfD, though, is obviously a growing threat.

The recently formed, German anti racist group, Aufstehen Gegen Rassismus, face tough challenges ahead but have

had successes in the past eg against the far right Pegida, which ex EDL leader Tommy Robinson, is associated with.

 

The AfD’s rise is part of a pattern across much of Europe where anger at austerity measures and poisonous

Islamophobia has been promoted by fascists and those of a populist, right wing nature. The French National

Front leader, Le Pen, was the first fascist leader to congratulate the AfD.

 

Just days before the election Alexander Gauland, one of its lead candidates, said, “We have the right to be proud of

the achievements of the German soldiers in two world wars.”

The results come after a series of scandals in Germany society lnked to the far right including the discovery of Nazi

cells within the army.

The trial of the National Socialist Underground group, responsible for  killing Turkish and Greek men in

Germany, has produced much evidence of  right wing extremism.

 

The racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric of the AfD has been given a platform by parts of the media who have taken up

many of its themes. The main parties too bear some responsibility, many will argue, as they have back-pedalled on

asylum policies and sought restrictions on immigration, encouraging the far right.

 

The AfD will not be able to make a bid for power as fascists inside it wish, but as the third party in

Germany, they will give confidence to Islamophobes and violent Nazis on the streets.

Angela Merkel’s coalition, the cooperation of her CDU party and the Bavarian CSU received its second

lowest share of the vote since World Wat Two. The SPD, the equivalent of Britain’s Labour Party, ended up with

its worst performance since the pre-war Weimar Republik.

 

The Left Party, Die Linke’s vote stalled, marginally increased its share of the vote to around 9% nationally but with

some better results in key areas, 19% in Berlin overall and up to 35% in some important local areas. The Green

Party’s vote stagnated.

 

Policies that have hit the poorest in Germany have caused widespread insecurity. It’s noticable that in the much poorer

former East Germany, the AfD took 23 percent of the vote. The AfD vote has soared in this region.

Die Linke undoubtedly lost votes in the east where of course it was the ruling party, as its voter base has declined.

In Saxony, Die Linke lost about a third of its votes. In total nationally, about 400,000 Die Linke votes transferred to

the AfD. The rest of the AfD’s votes came from from previous non-voters, 1.9 million, the CDU, 1 million and

400,000 from the SPD. So the Afd has made serious inroads into a working class vote but remains, for now, a

compromise dominated by elements of small business people.

 

The AfD gained mostly in providing a scapegoat. Exit polls show AfD’s key messages in this election were not

social but terrorism, crime and immigration, all themes pushed by the mainstream parties.

Those that voted for the AfD made their decision in spite of the party’s clear Nazi links.

 

The AfD´s momentum can be stopped by opposing  the racism at the heart of the party’s ideology and refusing to

treat it as a legitimate entity. What happens in the Bundestag matters, will all the parties refuse to have anything to

do with

the AfD or will the right wing, Bavarian CSU, move towards them and make arrangements with them? Time will tell.

As the results were announced there were inspiring, spontaneous demonstrations against the AfD across Germany.

This mood can be built on.

 

Christine Buchholz, a Die Linke MP, said, “The entry of the AFD into parliament is bitter. For the first time in decades, Nazis are in the Bundestag.

A share of responsibility for this is borne by parts of the media that always gave the AFD a stage and took up its

themes. And the established parties are also complicit with their restrictive asylum policy, racism and neoliberalism.

They have caused a crisis in society and prepared the ground for the AFD.”

 

Over 2000 anti-racists protested outside the AfD’s election party in Berlin, last night.

 “AfD is a bunch of racists,” and “Nazis out!” were but two frequent chants. Hundreds also protested in Frankfurt and Cologne.

Stand Up To Racism have called a solidarity demonstration with German anti fascists in London at the German Embassy tomorrow, Tuesday, details here, https://www.facebook.com/StandUTR/photos/gm.1532898863492728/1272739589504540/?type=3&theater


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