Alternative for Germany
|Alternative for Germany|
|Party leader||Alexander Gauland and Jörg Meuthen|
|Parliamentary leader||Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel|
|Political ideology|| Conservatism|
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) is a conservative, right-wing German political party. It is most known for its Euroskeptic views. Liberal critics falsely claim the party is somehow "far-right" or "neo-Nazi" due to its opposition to mass migration and globalism, and due to these false claims, the party has been the victim of numerous "Antifa" riots and other left-wing violence. The German establishment has even called for surveillance of the party because of its politically incorrect views.
The AfD was founded in 2013 by economics professor Bernd Lucke. Although the party was relatively conservative and Euroskeptic (it mainly opposed the Eurozone), it was a neo-liberal party that attracted middle class opponents of the Eurozone. The party made several gains during this time, with seven AfD members being elected to the European Parliament in 2014.
A power struggle within the party soon broke out, with Lucke, who wanted the party to remain liberal with opposing the Euro, his liberal course being opposed by Frauke Petry and her conservative, right-wing faction that emphasized law and order, immigration, conservative social views, and criticism of Islam. In the AfD party elections of July 2015, Petry won 68 percent of the vote, becoming the new leader of the party. The liberal Lucke subsequently left the party and formed his own. Additionally, five of the party's seven MEP's left the party. The AfD quickly adopted Petry's conservative, right-wing populist agenda, and it continued its support for a referendum over leaving the Eurozone. In October 2017, Petry left the AfD and founded the Blue Party, intended to promote a more moderate and establishment "conservatism."
Under Petry's leadership, the AfD continued to grow dramatically, winning numerous seats in state parliaments. The AfD formed an alliance with the Freedom Party of Austria in 2016 due to their shared Eurosceptic views. Despite AfD's shift to the right under Petry, she supported making alliances with the establishment German parties with the aim of eventually forming a governing coalition with them, something which brought her under much criticism from others in her party. Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel were elected as AfD's top candidates for the 2017 general election instead of Petry, who chose not to run.
While the AfD was unable to gain any seats in the German national parliament in the 2013 election, it gained many seats in the European Parliament in 2014. It first entered the Bundestag in the 2017 election after taking a historic third place with nearly 13% of the vote, while Angela Merkel's CDU received its worst result since 1949. The AfD elected a greater proportion of immigrant MPs than Merkel's CDU. After the CDU and SDP formed another grand coalition government, the AfD became the official opposition party. By the end of 2018, the AfD had entered every German state parliament, becoming one of only two parties to do this.
In 2018, polling found that the AfD had the second-highest level of public support of any German party, and it became the largest party in eastern Germany. It receives relatively strong support from blue-collar workers. By 2018, the party had made a large impact on German politics.
The AfD is strongly Eurosceptic and opposes the centralization of the socialist and globalist European Union. It supports leaving the EU if the socialistic organization does not reform and discontinue its centralization policies. The party is similar in EU policy to other right-wing parties in Europe. Additionally, the AfD is pro-direct democracy and anti-establishment. It supports free speech rights and strongly opposes censorship.
The AfD strongly opposes Angela Merkel's reckless and leftist migration policy. It does not believe Islam to be compatible with Western society. However, the AfD accepts "Muslims who accept and embrace our liberal secular society" rather than "political Islam." The party has connections to Pegida, which strongly opposes the Islamification of Europe, and it has proposed bans on minarets, the Islamic call to prayer, and halal slaughter.
The AfD strongly supports Israel. It receives support from conservative German Jews, and former Mossad officer Rafael Eitan, who led the operation to capture Adolf Eichmann, publicly praised the party. It supported U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though it also supports Iran nuclear deal. The AfD's deputy leader Beatrix von Storch has spoken highly of Israel and has condemned anti-Semitism using rhetoric stronger than any other party.
Critics of the AfD, who mainly comprise liberals and the establishment, claim the AfD is somehow overrun by "neo-Nazis" or "Nazi-sympathizers." One example held by critics is a January 2017 speech made in Dresden by AfD member Björn Höcke, considered by many to be racist and pro-Holocaust. Many conservatives disagree, arguing that the content of Höcke's speech may have been poorly-worded, but it was patriotic and pro-German rather than Neo-Nazi. While some AfD members (including party leader Petry) condemned his speech and launched a party exclusion trial of Höcke, many other AfD members supported him and his speech, such as the AfD Saarland. Critics of the AfD also falsely label the party terms such as "far-right," despite its policies being conservative and supporting Christian values.
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