‘Wake-up call’ – Germany’s far-right AfD reaches HIGHEST EVER popularity ahead of key vote

AfD is now projected to win 18 percent of the vote if elections were held tomorrow, after gaining two percent, according to a poll conducted by German political research organisation Infratest dimap.

The poll indicated the AfD would come in second behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union, which were projected to win 28 percent of the vote.

The AfD would nevertheless beat the centre-left SPD party, which stands on 17 percent of the vote after losing one percent.

The Greens and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) both gained a percentage point, standing at 15 percent and nine percent respectively.

However the far-left Linke remained stable with a projected ten percent of the vote.

The results represent the highest popularity ever achieved by the AfD, and the lowest ever support for the SPD; traditionally one Germany’s two main political parties.

Popularity for the AfD has been gradually building over recent months, and they entered the Bundestag for the first time in September 2017 after winning 12.6 percent of the vote in Germany’s fractious elections.

The party was only set up in 2013, and they stand on an anti-EU, anti-immigration platform.

The poll comes less than a month before critical local elections take place in the south German state of Bavaria.

The CSU are predicted to suffer heavy losses in the vote on October 14, with one poll suggesting they could lose up to 13 percent in the historically conservative state.

Research conducted by Infratest dimap indicated support for the CSU in Bavaria stood at 35 percent, compared to the 47.7 percent it won in the previous local elections in 2013.

Markus Söder, Minister President of Bavaria, commented on the polls, stating: “The polls this week weren’t pretty.

“But they are a chance for a wake-up call.”

Growing support for the AfD has caused splits to emerge between the CDU and CSU leaderships, notably regarding Chancellor Merkel’s contentious migration and refugee policy.

CSU leader and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer threatened to split up the CDU-CSU union prior to the 2017 national elections, a move which was seen as an attempt to pressure Chancellor Merkel into shifting to a more restrictive migration policy.

He also threatened to bypass Chancellor Merkel and implement a plan which would see Germany turn away all migrants who have already been registered elsewhere in the EU.

He eventually backed down from his threat, but has nevertheless called for a “zero tolerance” policy towards criminals entering Germany, and for “faster asylum procedures and more consistent deportations”.

Commenting on the migration crisis, he said: “Those who are not entitled to protection have to return to their countries of origin, because no country on this planet can take in unlimited numbers of refugees and migrants.”