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Germany's Surging Anti-Euro Party Hit A Key Milestone Today

Bernd Lucke, leader of Alternative für Deutschland
Bernd Lucke, leader of Alternative für Deutschland

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Germany's new, anti-euro political party – Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – would get the 5% minimum share of the national vote required to enter the German Bundestag if September's federal elections were held today, according to a new INSA Institute poll conducted for Bild, Germany's most widely circulated daily newspaper.

This is a big milestone for the party, which was only officially founded on Sunday, April 14, and hasn't even fully registered for the September elections yet. The poll shows how much appeal the anti-euro stance has in Germany right now.

(Last Monday's INSA Institute poll only gave AfD 3% of the total vote.)

In a report on the rise of AfD published Friday, Deutsche Bank's Co-Chief European Economist Gilles Moec discussed the remarkable success the nascent political party has found so far.

Moec provides figures from a few other polls that show the extent to which AfD is able to tap into the anti-euro sentiment that exists in Germany (emphasis added):

According to a recent poll by Infratest Dimap (mandated by German weekly Welt am Sonntag) dated April 7, 24% of the respondents indicated that they could imagine voting for the AfD in the federal elections. 7% of respondents answered "Yes, for sure". 17% of respondents answered "Yes, perhaps". (CDU/CSU voters: 19%; SPD: 21%; Greens: 14%; Left Party: 29%; FDP: n/a; undecided/non-voters: 31%)

In another poll by Forschungsgruppe Wahlen (mandated by ZDF Politbarometer) dated April 12, 17% of respondents stated they would vote for a party at the federal elections that favoured an EMU exit. (CDU/CSU voters: 11%; SPD: 18%; Greens: 8%; Left Party: 20%; FDP: n/a; undecided/non-voters: 26%).

These voter potential analyses do not provide any hard indications of the real election outcome. For example, the Pirates party occasionally scored well above 30% in similar polls when they reached their zenith of public attention last year, but would likely score considerably lower in real voter polls now. Still, these figures provide an initial indication of the potential for swing voters. Interestingly, despite the right-wing connotation of the party, there is also a considerable amount of voters of the SPD and the Left that indicated they could imagine switching sides.

Given the evident interest in an anti-euro choice among the German electorate, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that AfD has already garnered significant media attention.

Moec outlines three reasons for this:

  • Apart from discussions in academic journals, any debate on the benefits and costs of the EMU has generally been muted due to the general pro- European consensus in parliament and among the so-called social partners (e.g., labor unions, business associations, social aid/welfare groups). Initially euro-rescue measures were described as “without alternative” by the German government. In this context, there have often been expectations that a eurosceptic movement could be founded soon.

  • The established parties in Germany have been facing a constant loss of membership over the past two decades. There has been ongoing debate about where a political milieu might arise that could be a new intellectual home for the bourgeois-conservative camp.

  • The rise of eurosceptic powers in the rest of the euro area has increased the public’s awareness of political risks.

Moreover, Moec says, AfD is cleaning up on social media networks.

"So far, the AfD has already gathered 24,000 ‘friends’ [on Facebook] while more than 18,000 users are involved in forum discussions," Moec writes. "(By comparison: CDU: 36,100, 806 involved in discussions. SPD: 36,850, 5,460. FDP: 20,300, 1,702. Linke: 20,750, 1291)."

In short, the party is off to a good start.

However, according to Moec, " From now on, it will likely be mostly exogenous factors that influence the AfD’s success in federal elections."

In other words, should the euro crisis begin to re-escalate prior to the election – with Angela Merkel unable to handle it in a way that "[squeezes] the AfD off the public's radar screen," the party could really translate this early momentum into a significant impact on the electoral outcome in September.

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