Berlin- “A political earthquake in Berlin and a shock after the (Al-Badil) achieved record numbers.” “These results should be a warning to all democratic parties,” “(The Alternative) is back again.”
With these headlines, German newspapers and magazines, conservative, yellow, and even affiliated with the liberal left, dealt with the results of the latest poll, which gave the right-wing populist party (the alternative) 18% of the German vote, and equated it with the Social Democratic party of the current chancellor, Olaf Schultz.
The main question in the opinion poll supervised by the first German TV channel, “ARD” (ARD), came as follows: Which parties would you vote for if parliamentary elections were held next Sunday?
18% answered by choosing the “Alternative” party, equally with the Social Democratic Party, while the Green Party, the junior partner in the government coalition, received 15%, its liberal counterpart 7%, and the largest percentage, 29%, for the conservative Christian Democratic Union Party, while the remaining parties got the percentage. other small.
These results opened the appetite of opinion polling institutes, which have recently begun to conduct new polls, which came with almost the same shocking numbers, so that the INSA gave (the alternative) 19%, and the greens and liberals fell to 13%.
Immediately after the announcement of these poll results, the search for reasons began. For his part, German Chancellor Olaf Schultz repeated a phrase he had previously said in 2016 when he was mayor of Hamburg, which is that the “bad mood” party (meaning the Alternative Party) is benefiting from the turbulent times it is going through. Europe, while commenting on these results in an event organized by the weekly (Die Zeit) in his hometown of Hamburg.
As for the conservative Christian Democratic Union – accused of a rhetoric closer to the far right – its president, Friedrich Mertz, took the initiative to say, “We have nothing to do with the (Alternative) Party”, in a statement closer to self-defense, at a time when it seems that the Greens and liberals have not absorbed the shock until today.
Find the reasons
The details of the poll showed that 67% of those who chose the (Alternative) party preferred it over others, not because they are convinced of its electoral program, but rather because they are frustrated with the performance of other parties, while the remaining percentage is calculated on traditional voters classified as extreme rightists or right-wing populists.
This is what Hayo Funke, a lecturer in populist and extremist right-wing affairs at the Free University of Berlin, said in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net.
Funke put 3 reasons for these results, saying that “the citizens’ frustration and disappointment with the government coalition’s policy, and the differences between its three parties that come out from time to time to the open, were the reason for the decline in the necessary level of credibility in the policy of the coalition consisting of the Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals.”
He added that the crises led by the war in Ukraine, as well as the economic crisis resulting from high prices and high inflation, are the second reason for this development.
He stressed that the inability of the democratic parties to criticize the ongoing escalation of the Ukrainian war, and to develop political solutions to it, at a time when the Alternative Party openly opposes this war and the need to reach a political solution to it is the third reason for the rise in the popularity of the right-wing party.
This comes – according to Funke – at a time when a majority of Germany supports intensifying diplomatic efforts in order to prevent further escalation in Ukraine.
The spokesman stressed that the supremacy shown by opinion polls for this party will continue, unless the democratic parties are able to provide satisfactory solutions for the three reasons mentioned.
According to the latest opinion poll conducted by the specialized institute (Infratest Dimap), 34% of citizens in Germany are “totally dissatisfied” with the performance of Olaf Schultz’s three-party government, while 45% said they are “less satisfied” with this government, and only 19% expressed their satisfaction. On current German government policy.
Fear and hate as an electoral strategy
And because the Social Democratic Party is the German party most affected by the strong return of the right-wing populist party to the political arena, this party seeks, according to its deputy in Parliament (Bundestag), Annika Klose, to formulate a strategy that guarantees its exit from its crisis.
Klose said, in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, that this strategy is based above all on “the attempt by the parties of the government coalition to formulate a unified policy on issues that top the concerns of the German citizen.”
And whether the deputy agrees with the opinion that (the alternative) succeeded because others do not have a clear strategy, Klose said that this is not true, stressing that right-wing populists achieve success “only when they can spread fear and hatred by exploiting crises and turning them into electoral material.” .
She added that this is exactly what is happening at the present time, pointing to the state of confusion in which Germany suffers because of what she described as the “Russian aggression” against Ukraine and its consequences, especially the energy crisis, high prices and inflation.
The beating heart of the (Alternative) party
Observers unanimously agree that the Alternative Party experienced two surges, the first during the so-called refugee crisis in the fall of 2015, when former German Prime Minister Angela Merkel decided to open the borders to hundreds of thousands of refugees, and the second began to appear with the outbreak of the current crises, which considered the problem of asylum as one of the problems. its results.
The party continues to place the issue of asylum at the top of its priorities, at a time when German municipalities and cities have reached the limits of their capacity to absorb large numbers of new refugees, and European governments are unable to agree on a unified European immigration policy.
Dissident Christian Hirsch, who wrote, under a pseudonym, the book Seizing Power, knows better than anyone else the party’s strategy based mainly on exploiting the German government’s failure to find a solution to the waves of refugees to Europe.
Hirsch says in his interview with Al-Jazeera Net, that (the alternative), or as he calls it “the party of the angry”, captures people’s discontent and uses it to enhance its social status,” adding that one of the reasons for the party’s successes is the “failed immigration and integration policy” of the German government and the European Union.
He added that the party “has been riding since 2015 the wave of asylum, which has turned with time into the core of its identity.”
And about the extent of the danger of this party to immigrants in the event that it seizes power, Hirsch said that this party “poses a danger to all those who do not share its opinion, whether it is related to immigrants or others,” stressing that many party officials do not openly declare their hostility to foreigners except behind closed doors. But the Alternative Party, whether it declares it publicly or not, remains an anti-immigration and asylum party.
In this charged atmosphere and the widening gap between “us at the bottom” and “among them at the top,” as it is considered used to describe the “angry” Alternative Party voters among the political elites, Germany is preparing this year for local elections in the influential state of “Bavaria”, whose results may represent a blow. Harsh for democratic parties.
And this is at a time when the party participates in the parliaments of 14 federal states out of 16 states, and is preparing for the parliamentary elections in 2025.