Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party looked to be in a strong position to shake up the country’s political scene, with many seeing their rise as the final bullet in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political career, but in a matter of a few weeks, all of that appears to be imploding.
Over the last year, the AfD saw their favorability numbers rise steadily, even more so when they began taking a very strong stance against immigration, and in local elections, members were slowly taking seats in the government.
“the populists aren’t looking as attractive anymore”
However, in just two months, the AfD’s popularity dropped from a high of 15 percent to just 8 percent, a new low for party in the year in which numbers looked to only move up.
Hans Vorlaender, political scientist at Dresden’s Technical University, weighed in and said that suddenly “the populists aren’t looking as attractive anymore” and that the deflated support is due to both the tensions between leaders within the party and reactions towards similar tensions with pro-Brexit leaders in the UK.
“That Brexit leaders Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage ran away from responsibility so quickly showed AfD supporters they were promising an illusion,” Vorlaender added. “Their flight exposed the true colors and led to a lot of disillusionment toward populists.”
With this tension already taking place, a lot of doubt has been cast on the AfD’s future.
Earlier this month, the AfD faced its first major blow when more than half of the party’s lawmakers in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg resigned after the party refused to oust a member that referred to Judaism as an ‘enemy’ of Europe and downplayed the Holocaust.
Ironically, this uproar came when the party largely voted in favor of including a statement in their manifesto that said “Islam has no place in Germany”.
There have been talks of splitting the party, but that divide will likely weaken support overall. Whether or not the party can keep its support remains to be seen, but Germany is no stranger to new parties rising and falling just as fast.