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German Elections: Anxiety Over Possible Right-Wing Gains

Germany’s far-right party is set to enter parliament for the first time.Germany’s far-right party is set to enter parliament for the first time.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged supporters on Saturday to keep fighting for votes with Alternative for Germany (AfD) emerging as the first far-right party to enter parliament since the end of World War Two.

Merkel’s call was echoed by her center-left challenger Martin Schulz of the Social Democrats (SPD), now in an unwieldy “grand coalition” with her conservatives, news outlets reported.

Merkel is widely expected to cruise to re-election with the Social Democrats trailing by double digits.

A new INSA poll published by Bild newspaper showed declining support for both Merkel’s conservatives, who dropped two percentage points to 34%, and the SPD, down one point to 21%.

The anti-immigrant AfD, meanwhile, gained two percentage points to 13%.

In Berlin on Friday evening, Schulz urged supporters to keep knocking on doors in pursuit of a higher voter turnout, saying this could offset growing support for the AfD. He described the AfD as “gravediggers of democracy.”

He also recalled with pride the SPD's history of resisting the Nazi regime and told the Berlin rally that "this Alternative for Germany is no alternative. They are a shame for our nation."

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, also a Social Democrat, warned that "for the first time since the end of the Second World War, real Nazis will sit in the German parliament".

One of two AfD leading candidates, Alexander Gauland, has called for Germans to shed their guilt over two world wars and the Holocaust and to take pride in their veterans.

He has also suggested that Germany's integration commissioner Aydan Ozoguz, who has Turkish roots, should be "disposed of in Anatolia".

The AfD was founded in 2013 with the original goal of opposing large bailouts of financially strapped euro zone countries but from 2015 shifted its focus to immigration.

The party, which has already won seats in 13 of 16 state legislatures in Germany, has promised to re-energize debate in the federal parliament after four years of what it calls “boring” rule by Merkel’s grand coalition.

 

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