If there were federal elections today, Alternative for Germany (AfD) would become the second strongest party, behind only the conservatives in the CDU. This is clear from a survey by the Civey research institute published by the magazine «Der Spiegel» which gives 20 percentage points to this populist party, seven more than at the beginning of the year and the highest estimate achieved so far by the party. A figure that places the populists ahead of the chancellor’s SPD Olaf Schölzwhich adds 19 points, and quite a distance from its coalition partners: The Greens who with 16 points remain in fourth place and the FDP Liberals with seven. The left of Die Linke adds five points.
«Der Spiegel» specifies that the survey was carried out from June 9 to 16, a period that coincided with the controversy unleashed within Die Linke and that led this party to ask its former leader, Sahra Wagenknecht, to give up his parliamentary seat following speculation about his plan to found a new party. However, and far from these circumstances, the good figures of the AfD are based on frustration and, especially, on the protest of a part of German society that has been fighting for months against high inflation or other government measures that, without being to the liking of a majority, they have made many want to teach the other parties a lesson. Something that does not surprise the political scientist Michael Koß who, asked by the Tagesschau news program on German public television, assures that the problem germinates in the tripartite coalition in which the SPD, the Greens and the FDP “simply have little in common” and that is helping the AfD rise from months ago in the polls. However, it is not only inflation or the high energy prices which seems to give impetus to the populists, but also the new debate on what to do with the arrival of refugees or how to manage the new legislation imposed by the Government and that seeks ban gas boilers in new buildings from 2024. A decision that was arbitrated by numerous discussions between the tripartite.
The AfD feels comfortable and grows as a stalking of the Government. Not in vain, from some circles of analysts, they refer to this formation with the nickname of the “party that is always against”, since he is never in favor of what others want, be it with the issue of refugees, climate change or sanctions against Russia. That and that the populists are perceived by a large part of the German public opinion as the true opposition party, even ahead of the CDU itself. To the astonishment of many, the former chancellor’s party Angela Merkel, has supported some of the plans executed by the current Executive which, according to the journalist Nicole Diekman“could be one of the reasons why the AfD is perceived as the only alternative or as a protest party.”
A nomenclature in which the AfD sees itself as a party that swims against the current and in which its members feel haughty, even when it comes to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They have awarded themselves the label of “party of peace”. Their leader, Tino ChrupallaHe even went so far as to speak of an “economic war” in which “sanctions do more damage to our own population, to small and medium-sized businesses and to the economy.”
Scholz has taken note of this survey and, in an event organized a few days ago by the newspaper “Die Zeit”, referred to the federated states where the far-right party has come out stronger and referred to the AfD as a “bad-tempered party”. .
For the chancellor, everything is the product of a “convulsive moment” where there are many problems at a single moment and, as an example, he mentioned the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and climate change. Alice Weidel, the leader of the AfD, was quick to respond to Scholz: “The citizens have lost their laughter,” Weidel said, “and this is not due to a supposedly bad-tempered AfD, but to an amateur theater group that every day offers a sad political cabaret in the Government». For his part, the general secretary of the CDU, Mario Czajaassured that the survey numbers left members of the Conservative Party “cold”.
“Most of the people who are dissatisfied with the federal government still don’t see us as the political alternative and we have to keep working on that,” he said.
But the polls are not electoral results, they know that well in the AfD and even, with 20 percentage points, from the formation are aware of the “sanitary cordon” imposed in the rest of the parties and that there that participation in a government at the state level is an unrealistic option, due to the lack of possible coalition partners. Whether and to what extent the AfD can still win over voters – especially in western Germany – will depend on what the Scholz government does from now on and what happens in the regional elections in Hesse and Bavaria in the autumn. That should be an important test, beyond all the polls.