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Far-right AfD almost as popular as Social Democrats: poll

A poll published by INSA on Monday predicts that the Social Democrats and Christian Union would no longer be able to form a majority government, if elections were held now.

Far-right AfD almost as popular as Social Democrats: poll
Photo: DPA

The poll also puts the anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party on 15 percent, just two percent behind the Social Democrats (SPD) on 17 percent. Merkel’s Christian Union (CDU/CSU) would win 30.5 percent of the vote, the poll predicts.

As the CDU/CSU enter the final stages of trying to thrash out a new deal for a grand coalition government with the SPD, the poll makes worrying reading for the main parties. Their proposed government has already been dubbed a “coalition of losers” due to the fact that both parties leaked millions of votes at the ballot box in September’s national election. The SPD's vote share of 20.5 percent was their worst result since the Second World War.

The popularity of the far-right AfD has been creeping up in recent weeks, with several polls putting them on 14 percent or above.

They entered the Bundestag for the first time in September after winning 12.6 percent of the vote. The party was set up in 2013 and fought the election of that year on an anti-Euro platform, but failed to make it over the 5 percent hurdle needed to make it into parliament.

Last year they ran a campaign fiercely critical of the government’s refugee policy, which had led to over a million people applying for asylum in Germany since 2015.

The leadership of the AfD rejects the label of far-right, preferring to describe themselves as conservative. However, they remain highly controversial due to various statements by senior party members which have challenged a political consensus concerning how Germany treats its Nazi past.

Björn Höcke, the AfD leader in Thuringia, has lambasted Germany’s culture of remembrance of the Holocaust, labelling the Holocaust Memorial in central Berlin a “memorial of shame.”

Party leader Alexander Gauland, meanwhile, said during election campaigning last year that Germany should be proud of the service of its soldiers in two world wars.

The party has also been sharply criticized for its attitude to Islam, which it describes as “not belonging to Germany.” There are roughly 4.7 million Muslims in the Bundesrepublik, making up 5 percent of the population.

READ MORE: AfD head ‘mistakenly' votes for refugees to bring families to Germany

POLITICS

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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