Germany’s AfD begins series of mass protest aimed at expanding populist message

Germany’s AfD begins series of mass protest aimed at expanding populist message

Right-wing populism continues to grow in Germany, as the country’s largest far-right political group and main opposition party, the AfD,

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Photo: Reuters/Axel Schmidt

Right-wing populism continues to grow in Germany, as the country’s largest far-right political group and main opposition party, the AfD, prepares to hold a number of protests throughout Germany, starting today in Berlin.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ‘grand coalition’ has faced a dangerous challenge from the sole far-right party to enter the Bundestag in Germany’s post-war history. Legislation targeting immigrants and refugees has become an AfD priority, capitalising on voter unease over Germany’s liberal immigration policies. Greater concern comes from German politicians alleging that the AfD, through its parliamentary conduct and role in organising far-right anti-migrant and Islamophobic rallies, is seeking to destabilise civil society and democratic norms. However, the AfD’s impact on legislation has been limited due to the chancellor’s parliamentary majority.

Despite the pushback against the AfD in the Bundestag, support for the AfD continues to grow, even placing second in one February opinion poll. Regardless of the protests’ scale, it is clear that the AfD’s entry into national politics has forced a shift to the right in mainstream politics, with a crackdown in asylum requests and immigration by the new government. Their growing popularity is likely to influence policy in the long-term.