German Euro-Skeptic Party Gaining Ground

May 11th, 2013

Published on Spiegel Online International /German Election Blog, by Jane Paulick, May 7, 2013.

The anti-euro party “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) was officially founded just a few weeks ago, but it has clearly struck a nerve: It already numbers 10,476 members, SPIEGEL has learned — some 2,800 of which have switched allegiance from Germany’s established parties.   

As elections loom later this year, Alternative for Germany is making waves with an agenda that includes dissolving the euro currency zone and returning powers from Brussels to EU member-states. Although a survey released on Tuesday showed the party’s support is currently barely nudging 4 percent, its rapidly swelling ranks could end up significantly altering the country’s political landscape … //

… Bloodletting

Meanwhile, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) has seen 220 supporters migrate to the AfD; the Green Party has lost 106 members and the Pirate Party 142.

“There has definitely been some bloodletting among the established parties,” observes AfD co-founder Bernd Lucke, a professor of economics at Hamburg University and himself a former member of the CDU. That’s the good news. He’s less pleased about the fact that 86 percent of the fledgling party’s members are male.

They are indeed a clearly defined group. According to Kay Gottschalk, who recently co-founded the party’s Hamburg chapter, they are first and foremost pragmatists. “I come across a lot of people in the AfD who have their feet firmly on the ground,” he told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday. “They are people who prove themselves every single day. They don’t have time — like the Greens — to debate issues over tea all night long.”

Alternative for Germany is also a party with an obvious geographic bias. With 1,946 new members in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state is fast becoming an AfD bastion and looks all set to be the first state to clear the 2,000 member hurdle that will allow it to put up candidates for the parliamentary elections in September.

The party is almost as popular in Germany’s two most prosperous states, Bavaria, where it counts 1,541 members, and Baden-Württemberg, where it has 1,368 members.
In contrast, the party is generating least interest in the poorer eastern states and Berlin, where it has attracted just 531 supporters.

But much could still happen between now and September. According to the Allensbach Institute for opinion and market research, Alternative for Germany has voter potential of 17 percent.

(full text and related links).

Links:

Alternative für Deutschland AFD 2013: Olaf Henkel in der ARD-Sendung hart aber fair, 13.59 min, von Direktkandidat am 2. April 2013 hochgeladen;

Letter from Berlin: Merkel’s Zombie Coalition Partner Puts Reelection at Risk, on Spiegel Online International, by Charles Hawley, January 7, 2013;

US elections 2012: Iowa caucus results in full, on The Guardian/Data Blog, Nov 2012;

Iowa caucuses on en wikipedia …  are an electoral event in which residents of the U.S. state of Iowa meet in precinct caucuses in all of Iowa’s 1,774 precincts and elect delegates to the corresponding county conventions. There are ninety-nine counties in Iowa, and thus there are ninety-nine conventions. These county conventions then select delegates for both Iowa’s Congressional District Convention and the State Convention, which eventually choose the delegates for the presidential nominating conventions …:

World from Berlin: Germany Fooling Itself in Battle against Neo-Nazis, on Spiegel Online International, by Charles Hawley, May 06, 2013;

On Pakistan Elections, on DAWN.com, by Noam Chomsky and Ayyaz Mallick, May 08, 2013;

And Then There Was One: Imperial Gigantism and the Decline of Planet Earth, on TomDispatch, by Tom Engelhardt, May 08, 2013.

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