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Far right back in German parliament – first since 1945

The German far right party, AfD or Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany), is the first right wing party to be voted back into the German parliament since the Second World War ended in 1945.

Prime Minister Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union will get to form the next government. Her options have shrunk since the AfD went from failing to secure enough votes to enter parliament during the last elections with less than 5% of the vote, to the third-largest party in the country with 13.5%.

The AfD is an anti-immigrant party and opposed Merkel's policy allowing Middle East refugees numbering around a million to enter the country. The right says the refugees are not able to speak German, nor are they integrating with locals.

Worse for Merkel, who admitted that the result was a disappointment, was that her party went from securing more than 41% of the vote in the previous election to 33%. And it's clear from analysis, according to political observers, that her lost voters mostly shifted to the far right and cast their votes for the AfD. The SPD managed only 20.5%.

Although she has been part of a growing and stable Germany and this is her fourth election victory, she said she was concerned by the shift.

"Today we can say that we now have a mandate to assume responsibility and we're going to assume this responsibility calmly, talking with our partners, of course," said Merkel on the day after the poll.

Both Merkel's CDU and the Social Democrats or SPD have posted their worst election results in 70 years. She now faces what is known as the Jamaica coalition. That's the name given a possible tie-up between the black colours of the CDU/CSU, the yellow and business-friendly Free Democrats or FDP, and the Greens, who will be an unlikely fit.

The AfD will take up 94 seats in the federal parliament which has 709 seats. Their showing has shocked the German political establishment but observers say the signs were there in the run-up to the election. Hundreds of opposition members began showing up at her speeches and heckling her.

When Merkel unilaterally decided to allow a million refugees into Germany, she was castigated by the right but defended her action saying it was the right thing to do.

The growing number of attacks by Islamic terrorists in Germany has angered the right and led to an increase in their support. The list includes:

  • September 17 2015 – a 41-year-old Islamist was shot dead after knifing a policewoman in Berlin

  • February 26 2016 – a 15-year-old girl attacked a policewoman with a knife in Hanover, severely injuring her.

  • July 19 2016 – an Islamic state supporter killed one and injured five others in an attack with an axe in Würzburg.

  • July 24 2016 – an Islamic state supporter set off a bomb in Ansbach killing himself and wounding twelve others.

  • December 19 2016 – an Islamic state supporter drove a truck into crowds of shoppers in Berlin, killing 12 and wounding 56 others.

There have been at least five other incidents planned but foiled by German police before terror acts were carried out, according to authorities in the country.

These incidents have led to a surge in right wing support across Germany. However, a map of the results shows that the main supporters for the right come from the previous East German regions. Those also faced the largest number of immigrants attempting to cross the border from East European states.

Social media commentary has focused on Merkel's decision to allow a million new people into her country without first consulting the citizens of her country. The AfD vote numbers featuring a diverse range of ages, including 7% of over 70s and 16% of 35-44.

The result sets up a difficult political future for Merkel who's seen as the most effective Western leader in the world presently. The euro slipped in value on the news that she had lost support on Monday, down nearly half a percent at $1.1906.

Market fears include signs that an increasingly right wing Germany could destabilise both the ongoing Brexit negotiations, and the EU generally.

Her possible future partners in government, the Greens and SDP who are pro-business, are unlikely to agree on many policies.


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