Is Germany Ready for a Third Force?


If Alternative for Germany (AfD) doesn’t split and if its leaders don’t start pushing for power, the party will win over the disillusioned supporters of the ruling parties.

The Alternative for Germany party (AfD) did very well at the regional elections. But it is believed that it won’t keep its place as a leading political force in Germany long because it has only won the elections thanks to a protest electorate.

Alexander Rahr, Research Director of the German-Russian Forum, talked with about the party’s chances in big-time politics.

“Merkel’s party and other German parties see the Alternative for Germany (AfD) as a populist movement that will not become a real party. It is supported by a protest electorate, just as a protest electorate voted for [Vladimir] Zhirinovsky in Russia in the 1990s. It is believed that, unlike Marine Le Pen’s National Front party in France, AfD will be unable to create any party structure and can be dethroned,” Professor Rahr said.

Rahr believes that AfD will receive various offers of cooperation in parliament from the regions where it has won over the electorate, but it will be also presented as a shallow populist party that can only talk, not act.

On the other hand, he doesn’t rule out that AfD can repeat its recent success at the federal elections in September 2017.

“There have been rightwing parties in Germany’s history that soon vanished from the political stage, mainly because they were poorly organized and didn’t offer anything apart from populist slogans,” Rahr said.

During its short history, AfD has split several times and has had a succession of leaders.

“There are grounds to believe that AfD will start to dissolve in populism, this despite considerable public support, and will fail to grow into a real party capable of attracting voters and winning political prestige,” Rahr said.

However, if AfD doesn’t split and if its leaders don’t start pushing for power, the party will win over the disillusioned supporters of the ruling parties. “AfD has deputies in land parliaments and will now have broader access to the media, Germany’s elite and the necessary political instruments,” the German expert said. “AfD’s future is in its hands, and it has enough time until the federal elections to prove that it is not just a group of protesters against Merkel’s policies.”
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

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