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Alexander Gauland
Berlin

AfD set to gain from Merkel’s coalition turmoil

The Alternative for Germany party is gaining power as Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to struggle to form a new government.

Published: November 27, 2017, 8:12 am

    A top AfD party official, the parliamentary group leader Alexander Gauland told AFP that the current establishment turmoil is proof of how his anti-immigration party has succeeded.

    “It’s all downhill for Merkel now and that is partly our achievement,” Gauland said. “Her time is up — we want her to leave the political stage.”

    The AfD campaigned on the popular slogan “Merkel must go” because of her policy to welcome 2 million Muslim asylum seekers.

    An announcement this month by one of Germany’s biggest employers that it was slashing nearly 7 000 jobs, could further boost AfD votes.

    Siemens is planning on shutting down industrial sites in Goerlitz and Leipzig, both in the eastern state of Saxony which the AfD won outright in September.

    “That will probably help the AfD,” Gauland said. “In any case it is not very smart public relations when you make record profits and then sack people at the same time.”

    The former CDU member, said the former communist east was less enthusiastic about a multicultural Germany. “We have always said that we give a voice to people’s fears. We don’t want the country to change to such an extent that it can’t be turned back.”

    Even though Merkel has won a fourth term, she has been unable gather a ruling majority around her – an unprecedented state of affairs in German post-war politics.

    Gauland, 76, suggested the current impasse could unfortunately lead to another round of elections. “It is not up to us to call new elections and we aren’t asking for them, but we are prepared for them,” he said. “None of us is hoping for that with great enthusiasm, but we would probably make gains.”

    Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc and the rival Social Democrats would shed even more support if voters were called back to cast their votes.

    He denied that he AfD had been riding a “global populist wave”. He said he remained sceptical of solidarity pacts with anti-immigration parties, including France’s National Front and the Dutch Freedom Party.

    “Everyone always says ‘Brexit and Trump, that will give you a big boost’, but I don’t see it that way,” he said. “An exception though is the FPOe,” Gauland explained, because of existing “cultural” ties with the Austrian party.

    The Free Democrats, one of Merkel’s unwilling coalition partners, have been trying to imitate the AfD on tougher border policies.

    “There is the old fight about who is the original and who is the copy,” Gauland said laughing. “If the FDP moves in our direction, I can’t condemn that as completely wrong.”

    Gauland also noted that the replica of Berlin’s Holocaust memorial erected outside the home of AfD politician Bernd Hoecke, was “absolutely outrageous and the fact that the press is not up in arms surprises and angers me a lot”.

    “But of course it will help (Hoecke) – that is absolutely clear,” he concluded.

    Meanwhile, Reinhard Merkel – no relation to Angela Merkel – the former editor of the German newspaper Die Zeit has slammed the chancellor’s immigration policy. He called it “financially, morally and culturally unjustifiable”.

    In an opinion piece, the editor turned law professor says the current migrant policy is set to cost €300 billion over the next decade, money which would be “much better invested in the poor countries of origin”.

    With the strength of the euro, Germany would be able to purchase more in underdeveloped countries. Billions would be saved by investing directly in such countries, he said.

    Reinhard called the current policy an “aberration” which “aims to do good, yet creates evil”. He suggested that migrants should instead be returning home to help rebuild their war-torn countries.

    Religious Muslims very rarely integrate into liberal societies, he said and called on politicians “to stop telling people” that mass migration is an “opportunity”.

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