The Cable

Germany’s Far-Right Party Hits New Low in Polls

Will Frauke Petry’s recent trip to Moscow help or hurt?

frauke-peets

Germany’s far-right Alternative für Deutschland party fell to its lowest polling point in seven months, hinting that the Trump tidal wave is not one Germans are eager to ride.

A poll by the Institute Allsenbach and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung asked whom respondents would vote for if elections were held Sunday. Just 8.5 percent said AfD, led by Frauke Petry — the first time since July the extreme right-wing party has slipped below the 10 percent threshold, and its worst poll numbers since Dec. 2015. Another poll, conducted by Forsa Institute and Stern magazine, had AfD at just 8 percent.

Forsa chief Manfred Güllner suggested AfD’s poor performance was because of President Donald Trump’s “chaotic leadership,” which “is tending to cause alarm” among Germans. They are mostly throwing their support behind the current German chancellor, Angela Merkel, of the center-right CDU, and Martin Schulz, of the center-left SPD.

Mainstream German politicians might also be getting a boost that’s eluded their gray-suited counterparts elsewhere. The strong economy currently boasts its highest budget surplus since 1990.

Both Merkel and Schulz are traditional, mainstream politicians, and either would likely take a harder line on Trump than Petry, whose Euroskeptic party includes opposition to Islam in Germany as part of its platform, and who celebrated Trump’s election on Twitter. Petry and the AfD are also supportive of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ahead of upcoming state elections, and this autumn’s national election, it remains to be seen whether this other similarity between AfD’s leader and Trump — namely, her penchant for Putin — will help reverse the party’s slide, or simply reinforce voter concerns that she and the party are too fringe.

This week, Petry went to Moscow to discuss “cooperation with the German state governments” and meet with head honchos in the Duma. Vladislav Belov of the Center for German Studies at the Russian Academy of Science described Russia’s interest in AfD as “objective,” suggesting, despite the fact that other small German parties have not had meetings with Russian higher-ups, that there is nothing suspicious in Petry’s jaunt to Moscow.

AfD, which denies receiving financial support from Moscow, has supported closer relations with Russia since its founding in 2013. To be fair, that alone is not an outlying position in German politics; friendlier relations with the East have been a staple since the 1960s, and mainstream German politicians have extremely close ties with Moscow. (See Schröder, Gerhard.)

Photo credit: Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering ambassadorial and diplomatic affairs in Washington. @emilyctamkin

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