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ELECTION

‘Yes to Dexit’: Germany’s far-right AfD firms up election strategy

Germany's far-right AfD party vowed to campaign for an end to coronavirus restrictions, a tougher line on migration and an exit from the EU as it finalised its election manifesto on Sunday.

'Yes to Dexit': Germany's far-right AfD firms up election strategy
AfD faction heads Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland. dpa | Kay Nietfeld

On the second day of a congress to firm up its strategy ahead of Germany’s election on September 26, the anti-Islam, anti-immigration party voted to call for a complete ban on refugees being joined by family members.

Party members agreed to come out against “any family reunification for refugees”, revising previous wording that had called for such reunions to be allowed only under exceptional circumstances.

The AfD had on Saturday voted to include a call for Germany to leave the European Union in its manifesto, as well as vowing to demand an end to coronavirus measures, complaining of a “politics of fear”.

The AfD has often sought to capitalise on anger over Germany’s coronavirus measures ahead of September’s election – the first in 16 years not to feature Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is bowing out of politics.

Some AfD members have courted controversy by joining anti-vaxxers and “Querdenker” (Lateral Thinkers) at various demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions.

AfD co-leader Jörg Meuthen on Saturday vowed to dispel “these orgies of bans, these jailings, this mania for locking down”.

With Merkel and state leaders expected to tighten infection control measures further this week, the far right unveiled its election slogan of
“Germany. But normal” — at least in part targeting coronavirus restrictions.

Starting out as an anti-euro outfit in 2013, the AfD capitalised on public anger over Merkel’s 2015 decision to allow in a wave of asylum seekers from conflict-torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The party caused a sensation in Germany’s last election in 2017 when it secured almost 13 percent of the vote, entering parliament for the first time as the largest opposition party.

But it has lost support as Germany reels from the coronavirus pandemic, and has lately been plagued by internal divisions and accusations of ties to neo-Nazi fringe groups.

Latest surveys have the party polling at between 10 and 12 percent, with Merkel’s CDU/CSU on around 27 percent and the surging Greens not far behind.

SEE ALSO: Anti-mask MP from AfD in hospital with coronavirus

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POLITICS

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

Germany will reinstate its so-called debt brake in 2023 after suspending it for three years to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, sources in the finance ministry said Wednesday.

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The government will borrow 17.2 billion euros ($18.1 million) next year, adhering to the rule enshrined in the constitution that normally limits

Germany’s public deficit to 0.35 percent of overall annual economic output, despite new spending as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the sources said.

The new borrowing set out in a draft budget to be presented to the cabinet on Friday is almost 10 billion euros higher than a previous figure for 2023 announced in April.

However, “despite a considerable increase in costs, the debt brake will be respected,” one of the sources said.

Although Germany is traditionally a frugal nation, the government broke its own debt rules at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and unleashed vast financial aid to steer the economy through the crisis.

READ ALSO: Debt-averse Germany to take on new borrowings to soften pandemic blow

The government has this year unveiled a multi-billion-euro support package to help companies in Europe’s biggest economy weather the fallout from the Ukraine war and sanctions against Russia.

Berlin has also spent billions to diversify its energy supply to reduce its dependence on Russia, as well as investing heavily in plans to tackle climate change and push digital technology.

But despite the additional spending, Finance Minister Christian Lindner has maintained the aim to reinstate the debt brake in 2023.

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