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Right-wing populists surge in Germany’s state elections

13 March 2016

8:55 PM

13 March 2016

8:55 PM

Angela Merkel continues to reap the whirlwind. In this weekend’s elections Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has emerged as the fastest-growing political insurgent party since 1945. It has managed to enter all three state parliaments – with over 10pc of the vote in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and almost a quarter of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt, more than double the centre-left SPD. It focused its campaign as a protest against Merkel’s migrant policy, a policy that paid off. Its success is more than just another example of Europeans letting off steam.

Imagine if Nigel Farage declared that police should be ready to shoot migrants trying to make it from Calais to Britain; saying: ‘I don’t want to do this, but the use of armed force is there as a last resort.’ And imagine that in spite of this — or perhaps because of it — Ukip were to overtake the Labour party in a national poll to become the most popular opposition party.

This, in effect, is what is happening in Germany. The words above were spoken by Frauke Petry, AfD’s leader. So while the possibility of Brexit dominates the news here, a bigger story is brewing in Europe: the EU’s inability to respond to this immigration crisis is sending millions of voters to extremists, now on the march across the continent. In unemployment-hit Saxony-Anhalt : AfD took almost a quarter of the vote. And look at the swings (bottom row), in all three states. AfD is in blue.

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Merkel’s CDU has now lost its former stronghold of Baden-Württemberg – at the hands of the Greens, who took the protest vote. AfD is similar to Ukip, but its rise has been much swifter. It was founded by academics during the euro crisis three years ago. Last year its Eurosceptic founders were ousted and it evolved into an angrier anti-immigration party. But, unlike Ukip, it’s a party that can be unhesitatingly described as sinister. “We have a very clear position on the refugee policy: we don’t want to take in any refugees,” AfD deputy chairman Alexander Garland has said tonight. Even Ukip calls for Britain to take in more Syrian refugees.

Here, we fret over the colour of the front doors of the houses in which asylum-seekers are housed. In Germany last month, a small crowd gathered in the town of Bautzen to cheer as a building that was being prepared as a hostel for migrants burned to the ground.

Meanwhile, a mob surrounded a coach taking refugees to a hostel in Clausnitz near the Czech border. When the refugees were reluctant to disembark, police dragged some of them out of the bus and to the hostel. The scenes, captured on video, should chill the blood of any European.

No wonder German politicians claim the ‘police can’t cope’. Sickeningly, there were 920 attacks on refugee hostels in Germany last year.

All this might come as a surprise to Britons who remember residents of Munich gathering at the city’s railway station last September to cheer newly arrived migrants, shortly after Angela Merkel had announced that anyone who made it to Germany would be welcome to stay. Germany appears to be swinging from one extreme to the other.

The Prime Minister said this week that Britain must stay in the EU because the country would struggle to negotiate a better trade deal with Brussels in two years’ time. But by then, it is far from clear that there will be an EU at all.


Join Isabel Hardman, James Forsyth and Fraser Nelson at the ICA, near Trafalgar Square, to discuss the campaign with Ben Page, pollster at Ipsos Mori. A subscriber-only event. To book, click here. To subscribe from £1/week, click here.

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Show comments
  • William Brown

    Why aren’t there any people on the ‘right-wing’ now?

    They are all collectively described these days, as ultra right, extreme right, or hard right…or even neo Nazi’s.

  • Mr B J Mann

    it’s a party that can be unhesitatingly described as sinister. “We have a very clear position on the refugee policy: we don’t want to take in any refugees,”

    So what is “sinister” about that?!

    Is it code for “we’re really going to take in million of refugees………………..

    ……………………………………….and gas them!”?!

    “Sickeningly, there were 920 attacks on refugee hostels in Germany last year.”

    Why “sickening”?!

    Did you misread that as “hospital” and imagine the attacks were on life saving equipment?

    Or even bay-bees in incubators?!

    The attacks were on buildings!

    Did you think they were converting priceless, irreplacable, historic treasures into hostels?!?!?!!!!!

    • nuff said


      nuff said

      • Mr B J Mann

        Yup, it’s a great way to reflect the left’s infantilised, emotive, juvenile, guil-tripping, shroudwaving, tear-inducing attempts at fifth forn debate, isn’t it!


  • Mr B J Mann

    the EU’s inability to respond to this immigration crisis is sending millions of voters to extremists, now on the march across the continent.”

    What is “extremist” about them?!

    And when did they say that:

    “police should be ready to shoot migrants”?!?!

    They said that border guards should be ready to do their job, which the last time I checked was to guard their border.

    And to use their firearms as and when necessary.

    Which is normally as a last resort, and normally starts with firing warning shots.

    If someone ignores them and continues to invade then what’s wrong with then shooting at them?

    After all even our unarmed police shoot even innocent tube and car passengers, and even people in bed!

  • hobspawn

    I hold Fraser Nelson responsible. He actively helps Merkel and Cameron to bring about war in Europe and the UK. I do wonder what will happen to him when he is exposed as a traitor to his country.

  • David Webb

    I find Fraser’s support for immivasion sinister. There is nothing sinister about the AfD. It is not a far-right party – and doesn’t even call for leaving the EU. But it has noticed that a nation’s armed forces are there to prevent invasion. Our armed forces should prevent invasion through Calais.

  • justejudexultionis

    Merkel will be remembered as one of the greatest fools in Germany history. Her insane policy of allowing a million Muslims into an historically Christian country is an affront to democracy and common sense. The far right are merely capitalising on her monumental stupidity.

  • Charles Lufkin

    Nelson is a squishy pro-immigration shill.Germany is beginning to save itself from the muslim invasion.I love the AFD.

  • Ivor MacAdam

    Why are right-wing (i.e. not raving left-wing Marxists) always referred to as “extremists”? They are not extreme, just sensible. And if the Police in Germany are armed, they must be expected to use the weapons they have been issued with, in extreme cases, and after due procedures have been carried out. Otherwise, there is no point in the German Police carrying side-arms, if they are not allowed to use them at the (last resort) appropriate time.

  • lakelander

    If the Syrian refugee problem had been competently managed, primarily by filtering out young, single, north African men, who have been the main source of trouble, a tolerable and beneficial solution could have been achieved. Instead, and mainly due to Merkel’s incompetence, it has been a free-for-all which has unnerved the German population.

    And they are not like us in Britain. We have been small c conservatives for centuries. Whatever the achievements of Germany since 1945 it remains more susceptible to extremes due to its history and the recently communist east. That should worry us all.

    • justejudexultionis

      Well said.

  • Ian Walker

    Ah, “populist” another weapon in the sneering elite’s disdain for democracy.

    Because your intellectually nuanced lefty ideals are too clever for the dumb proles to understand? Hey, maybe we shouldn’t even let them vote?

    If you’ve got a good idea, then convince people. The politics of fear only work from a position of safety and security – when you’ve eroded the borders, put Quislings in the cabinet and stationed trained enemy gunmen on every street, then I’d surmise you’ve lost that position.

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  • Adaadat

    I don’t want to do this, but the use of armed force is there as a last resort.’ [My emphasis] What is the problem? He made it perfectly clear. After all other options have been exhausted, he would, reluctantly, have to authorise potentially-lethal force – though he didn’t say ‘kill them’, did he? And what’s wrong with not wanting any of the Muslim immigrants? None will be the next Steve Jobs, I guarantee it.

    The near-universal, identikit reaction to the comment reminds me of a programme/series that the BBC aired a decade-or-so ago, where, if I recall correctly, we, the viewers (if schooled in reading BBC bias), were left in no doubt, that shooting unarmed civilians was acceptable, sometimes. Most people intrinsically understand this, but it seemed that the Left needed to remind itself of the obvious. Anyway, ordinary members of the public, thrust into the positions of Cabinet ministers, at times of national crises, were forced to act according to how they saw fit and one episode saw the ‘minister’ authorise the shooting of disease-ridden Britons, attempting to break-out of a secure zone or hospital complex, or something similar. I don’t recall that the programme’s editorial line condemned the decision. Mind you, the people, to be shot, were white, I think.

    Shooting women and children was acceptable then, albeit in a fictional setting, but not now, in a real setting, where it hasn’t happened anyway.

    I guess this doesn’t add any great insight into the never-ending lunacy that life in the West has become, but I thought I’d share it.

  • WTF

    Some posters were fear mongering over a potential WWIII caused by Germans but that’s far too simplistic and a brief look at history should correct this.

    In all fairness to the German people, its German leaders who have driven them to war in the past but many fail to understand the reasons. WWII for example was caused because Germany was a economic basket case in part due to French reparations and also the Great Depression and Hitler used war & discrimination to rally the people.

    This time around, Germany was and still is the leading economic power house of Europe BUT Merkel with her migrant debacle is on course for creating the same dire conditions of Germany between WWI and WWII. Hopefully this time they’ll dump Mad Merkel before it comes to WWIII and everyone will be safer !

  • Penny Henry

    And, once again, the ordinary people choose loyalty to their country and willingly fight for their national identity, rather than embrace a marxist paradise on Earth.

    Marcuse must be turning in his grave.

  • gelert

    Why is it “sinister” to say no more “refugees” ? Just being in a war zone doesn’t make you a refugee. Nelso would never give a figure as to how many he would think appropriate.

    Nelson is as much a virtue signaller as Cooper, Sturgeon et al.

  • Dominic Stockford

    ‘Populist’ – people who have ideas we don’t like.
    ‘Democrat’ – people who vote the way we told them to.

    • ColTPride

      People such as Fraser Nelson who use the word “populist” – people who do not believe in a system of Government such as Parliamentary Democracy but who prefer, no demand, a system of Government by a self appointed and self perpetuating elite.

  • ColTPride

    You have the wrong end of the stick – it is Merkel’s policies that are extreme. The impact of her “we will take everyone” policy will not be to give temporary refuge to persons fleeing war, for them all to return when the war ends to rebuild their country, but the permanent insertion of a huge alien culture totally at odds with the host’s. One that changes the lives of Germans for the worse, for ever.

    It is no surprise that people should react adversely to a policy as extreme as this.

  • WTF

    I’d love to be a fly on the wall at No 10 to hear what Cameron makes of all this.

    Was it Harold Wilson who said “A week is a long time in politics” and then we had MacMillan who said “Events my dear boy, events”, when his policies were thrown into disarray.

    We have 2-3 months before the referendum and anything could happen by then. Merkel could resign, Sweden could start kicking out thousands of aliens, Eastern European countries could exit the EU and god forbid, there could be a major terrorist attack in Europe that will cause the mother of all back-lashs not seen since the 1930’s.

    For the sake of the UK, I would advise Cameron to have contingency plans for all of these potential
    events and not forgetting the likely fracturing & shrinkage of the EU with a worst case scenario for Juncker, the actual collapse of the EU.

    The Times They are a Changing !

  • pobinr

    Anyone but the blind can see the governance of Europe is very very sick right now under the EUssr.
    Cameron the leader of our elected government goes grovelling to people in Brussels who we never voted for, cannot remove & who are not accountable to us.
    Including that completely mad East German Communist woman. Then he comes back with nothing of any real worth, whilst telling us he’s got a great deal in a reformed EU !
    And he wants open borders to Syria, Armenia & Syria via Turkey who he wants in the EU !
    He’s now as delusional & hates our country as much as as Tony B.Liar.

  • Revd Robert West

    Well it is Biblical for the genealogical nations (ethnic groups) to be separated into their own countries, not someone else’s (Genesis 10: 5, 20, 31, 32); let us hope that sanity returns to Germany and the migrants are returned, swiftly, to their own countries.

  • Allyup

    Merkel ignores ethnicity differences but its these differences that made the EZ a failure. I suspect the EU will breakup up eventually due to these differences. A similar attempt in the 19th century failed.

    (The Habsburg Monarchy’s attempt to form a centralized bureaucratic state ruled from Vienna)


    • gelert

      Napoleon dreamed of ruling Europe.

  • WTF

    The most telling facts across the EU and the USA is that despite overwhelming control of the electorate by the elite establishment and their propaganda machines in main stream media, they have lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the people. The internet and a several news outlets have exposed all the lies and spin by those in power and the truth is now out there and people have had enough. Mass enforced Immigration and the dilution of centuries of western cultures by 5th century barbarians have turned people against the progressives and they want their countries back.

    Naturally evolved diversity that we saw in the early days of the common market worked well as did the explosion of travel to western countries as despite language barriers, the culture is the same. The social engineering experiment that Blair before and Merkel now has enacted on Europe aided by Democrats in America, has almost destroyed the wests common heritage on the altar of multiculturalism of the worst kind.

    Name calling like racist, hard right, bigots or worse mean nothing as people no longer pay attention to the ‘race baiters’, they are yesterdays people. Peoples of the west just want their culture back to pass on to their children rather than see it destroyed in front of them by the likes of Mad Merkel. The Times They are a Changing and fast and you’re either for a back to the future change or if you’re a progressive, you’ll be trampled underfoot in the rush, your choice.

  • Roland Deschain

    “it’s a party that can be unhesitatingly described as sinister”

    That may or may not be the case. I don’t know enough about German politics to comment on that. But who else is representing those who recognise the destabilising effects of this unfettered immigration of millions with incompatible beliefs?

    And what is so awful about saying “the use of armed force is there as a last resort”? It would be a scandal were it not.

    • Sargon the bone crusher

      No. The criminal Labour Party in Britain is the party that can be called sinister.

  • Ingmar Blessing

    Hmm haven’t expected that kind of article. Ukip would probably change its position on letting in more refugees, if already 1,1 million had arrived the previous year. Especially since many among them are not refugees, but migrants of different sorts. That’s why the argument of AfD being “unhesitatingly sinister” has no real base.

    It is one thing when you already let in 1.000 (real) refugees into a country with 50 million people and then say, well, we could take 10.000 and a very, very different one, when you already let in 500.000 refugees and then say, another 10.000 would be too much.

    I’m also astonished that the Spectator is is copy-pasting products of the German propaganda machine. That also counts for the sentence by Petry. Here’s the original interview:

    It’s in German, but it might be worth translating it to get down to the real thing, which is that the interviewers built up a nice trap for her and tried to get her into the corner no matter what.

    Oh and in Clausewitz no AfD member was involved.

    Please stick to the facts.

    • enoch arden

      Clausewitz was a German patriot who joined the Russian army to fight against Napoleon in 1812 after Prussia surrendered. He certainly wasn’t an admirer of the European Empire.

      • Ingmar Blessing

        thx, I correced that.

  • oneeyedman

    Not wanting more refugees is now “sinister?” Left is Right while Right is Wrong?

  • Allyup

    Central control by the unelected (Germany) is driving dissension throughout the EU. To the elite this is dismissed as populism. Extremist parties are gaining throughout the EU. So far this has made Ireland and Spain unable to form governments.
    More central control of a disparate EU with ethnic differences in values customs etc (i.e integration) will make more countries ungovernable due to the rise of extremist parties.
    Merkel talks as though the EU was composed on one people with one language and one set of values and with greater allegiance to Europe than their own country. Enjoy!

  • Arthur Sparknottle

    There is a complete lack of spine both on the UK and in Europe generally, although the Hungarians have found some. The idea that one should not shoot at an uncooperative, lawless, swarm of invaders marching across ones country, and treating the forces of law and order with utter contempt, would have seemed utterly ridiculous even as recently as fifty years ago. Before that, people could recognise an invasion when they saw it, and they knew it would be a bad thing. What we see now is rather like the situation the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms faced a a bit more than a thousand years ago – aggressive, young male settlers swarming ashore from Viking longboats and being bought off with crates of silver, by feeble kings and chieftains. Meanwhile, the then invaders took the offerings, and did as they liked, making sure that they took control of the plum bits of land where they established themselves, only really being displaced by the Normans – a more aggressive and ruthless brand of the same sort. Those invasions changed our language forever, and our customs and the land owning arrangements have seen the ordinary folk dispossessed of huge tracts of land ever since. The land and the wealth it generates, remain broadly in the same families that took it in the eleventh century. Is that what we want for the future – another invasion?

  • Cyril Sneer

    AFD are not extreme. The extremists are the ones that have imported these cockroaches on mass looking to change society beyond comprehension whilst actively lying about the tremendous social damage inflicted from this invasion.

    It’s Merkel that is the undemocratic extremist, the AFD are patriots and democracy won and don’t you lot hate that.

    • Ingmar Blessing

      Do you really have to call them cockroaches?

      • Cyril Sneer

        Most of them come expecting handouts whilst holding nothing but utter contempt for our way of life.

        They’re about as welcome as a cockroach.

  • Blindsideflanker

    The BBC has upped the rhetoric against the AfD who they now call as ‘Hard right’ .

    I wonder if this is to send a message to us here, dare to seek to control immighration and we will ensure you are

    • WTF

      The BBC are ignored by most these days as an irrelevance.

    • Wildflowers

      According to the BBC they made minor gains and remain a minority party.

      • Tom Cullem

        They made huge gains in the municipal elections the weekend before and if their gains had been that minor, they wouldn’t have been so ecstatic.
        There really is no such thing as impartial journalism any longer.

    • trobrianders

      Us Brits have never been good about badges of honour. But we’ll have to wear it nevertheless.

    • Tom Cullem

      The BBC on Dateline London this weekend made a startling admission that they have been getting Twitter and Facebook messages stating that viewers are “tired of hearing about the refugees” – followed by an apology as the programme moved into a discussion of the Turkey deal.

  • Ringstone

    When does”popular” become “populist”?
    Normally, it seems, when it doesn’t chime with the commentator’s worldview.

    • Hades2

      Populist = Demagogue
      It’s a nicer way to say it

      • Ringstone

        Ah, but it’s very hard to be a demagogue on your own isn’t it?
        You can’t be a demagogue without a demos.
        In a democracy the people, the demos, is the fount of political legitimacy.
        Is a demagogue therefore just a charismatic politician you disagree with?

        • Hades2

          Er, no.
          A demagogue is a demagogue.
          One that taps into popular prejudices for gain.
          But they could be onto something right anyway.
          I offered an explanation and got an explanation from you instead about demagoguery.
          I think Trump is a demagogue actually, for example.
          But I still would like to see him get the nomination and I am pleased about the success of the Alternativ Fuer Deutschland

          • Ringstone

            A demagogue without a demos is a street corner ranter.
            One of those blokes with a sandwich board at Speakers Corner.
            A demagogue (Greek demos – people + agogos – leading) becomes one by articulating the bigoted (™G Brown) concerns of the Great Unwashed which have been left to fester, neither confronted and defeated not accepted and addressed, by the political elite of the day – and thereby gaining a significant following. Without a following they are nothing, and their rise – for better or worse – is a direct response to the failure of an entire political class to properly represent the views and concerns of the population from which they claim political legitimacy.

            • red2black

              ‘A political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.’

              • Mr B J Mann

                Would you like to be free and on £10 grand a year?

                Or I can lock you up in a nice warm prison cell, three hot meals a day, en suite bucket, no bills, although no view, no TV, radio, papers, magazines

                • red2black

                  People seemed to be struggling to find a concise definition of a demagogue.
                  The one I gave, courtesy of Google, seems to have sufficed.

                • Mr B J Mann

                  And my point was that people seem to to be struggling to understand that sometimes (always?) politics isn’t about “rational” argument!

                • red2black

                  I’d agree with sometimes. We wouldn’t be wholly human if that wasn’t the case.

            • Hades2

              And that is exactly what Trump is doing.
              But i wish you would stop trying make out that I said anything different or don’t understand the f**king term!

  • Andrew McNeilis

    if it is called “Populist” because, well, it’s popular, then surely people should ,listen?

    why is what more and more people want sneered at by the Establishment elite in a “Nanny knows best, calm down ” type of way. ?

    Nice one germany

  • Bad Lad

    If Nigel had so spoken then he would have been in parliament by now.

    • WTF

      I think timing is everything, unfortunately Nigel was the first western politician to raise immigration as the number 1 issue but was a little before his time as Mad Merkel hadn’t opened the doors at that point in time. Now she has and more terrorist acts have occurred in parallel, Germany with the AfD and America with Trump have very effectively blocked all the racist name calling from the progressive liberals. In fact, there is voting in Florida today where its on the cards that Marco Rubio will be shown the door by Trump as he is actually picking up legal resident Latino votes from Rubio.

      • Bad Lad

        You are so right. It is made all the more incredible because since you posted your comment she has said she will not change her policy.

        • WTF

          Yep, I read that and its going to lead to violence and a backlash. The mood of the German people has been exposed by these elections and if Mad Merkel doesn’t meet them half way, there will be elements who force her to. That’s not a threat, that’s a simple prediction.

          • Bad Lad

            Good. And I hope you are right.

      • ColTPride

        Legal Latinos went to America because they wanted to live in the American culture. They as well as anyone else can see the danger that the host culture is overwhelmed and changed for ever for the worse by unlimited mass immigration.

        • WTF

          I know from my Indian friends in England they have exactly the same views over mass immigration from an alien culture and like Latinos in Florida, they want a crack down on undesirables and non integrating illegal immigrants being allowed into the country. Based on my personal experience, the Hindus I’ve socialized with they are as much a part of my British heritage and I think of them as British to the core but pedophile gang rapists and even those who self segregate are not part of British culture.

  • Speedy

    It’s not an inability to deal with this arab invasion of Europe. It’s cowardice and lack of will.

  • trobrianders

    I am certain there must be thousands of solid British professionals who share the values of the AfD. Pity they don’t have the courage to assemble and take British politics by storm.

  • Gilbert White

    No avail, more voting, the MSM controls the language the courts and the police

  • Fred Blogs

    ” …..the EU’s inability to respond to this immigration crisis is sending millions of voters to extremists…”
    Nothing extreme about it, I would call it common sense.

    • trobrianders

      The Left will not rest until it has driven every last centrist to the Right out of desperation.

  • Sargon the bone crusher

    The liberal consensus in the West is now at an end.
    Very late coming, but refreshing to see.

    • vieuxceps2

      I hope so. But a few fresh showers of sense do not wash away the weeds that have been sown. Our fields will need wise culivation,especially in the schools.

      • trobrianders

        That will take a government like Poland’s who are prepared to root out the leftist degenerates.

        • Sargon the bone crusher

          Yes. But they are rare.

      • Sargon the bone crusher

        Privatise all schools. Employ teachers for their expertise, not for the ‘profession’ of being a teacher, which is no skill, no profession, just a few simply acquired techniques.
        Remove all union representation of school teachers. It is one area of work where no political control should be tolerated.

        • trobrianders

          A few simply acquired techniques plus a whole load of leftist indoctrination.

        • red2black

          If you privatised the schools where I live, the classrooms would be empty.

          • Sargon the bone crusher

            Move then; you obviously live in a hell-hole.

            • red2black

              Not at all; it’s a pleasant town in the North of England, except that most people who live here can’t afford to pay for private education.

              • Sargon the bone crusher

                So you are all economic failures.
                Education may be a bridge too far.
                Indentured service hold any attractions??????

                • red2black

                  Eckers like.

              • goodsoldier

                voucher system

                • red2black

                  Previous replies have been deleted (?)