Merkel Rejects AfD Cooperation as Newcomer Seeks Allies

German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out any cooperation with the anti-euro Alternative for Germany party, setting back the newcomer’s attempts to prepare the ground for a future coalition with her bloc.

Hans-Olaf Henkel, a former Europe chief for International Business Machines Corp. and one of seven AfD representatives in the next European Parliament, said in Berlin today that his party won’t work with extremists and will instead ally with the “democratic forces” in the chamber.

“The party is trying to occupy a strategic position in the German party system that could make it a coalition partner in the long run for the Union parties,” Lothar Probst, a professor at Bremen university, said on Phoenix television. The AfD “has the next elections firmly in its sights,” he said.

The AfD took 7 percent in its first run in yesterday’s European Parliament elections, winning seats for the first time after narrowly failing to enter Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in September’s federal vote. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union-led bloc won the European election with its lowest vote share since 1979.

“We’re not going to consider any cooperation with the AfD,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin today when asked about the party’s impact. “We need to engage intensively with voters of the AfD and convince with our arguments. But I think our strategy of making clear what we stand for is absolutely correct.”

Minority View

Merkel’s CDU should be open to a coalition with the AfD, with which it shares the most common ground after the Free Democratic Party, with which it allied during her second term failed to be re-elected, CDU lawmaker Klaus-Peter Willsch told Spiegel Online. Willsch voted against bailouts for euro-area countries during the debt crisis, which was the trigger for the AfD’s formation.

Willsch’s comments are a minority view in the party and it’s hard to see how Merkel’s bloc, which oversaw the introduction of the euro, would ally with the AfD to abolish it again, said Klaus-Dieter Sohn, a policy analyst at the Centre for European Policy in Freiburg. All the same, it can’t be ruled out in the “far distant future” if the AfD abandoned up some of its positions, Sohn said.

AfD leader Bernd Lucke predicted further victories in three state elections this year in Saxony, Brandenburg and Thuringia, all in Germany’s eastern half. In Saxony, which is dominated by Merkel’s CDU, the AfD took 10.1 percent yesterday.

Lucke said yesterday that the AfD will seek to join the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament, which includes the U.K.’s Conservative Party and the Czech Republic’s Civic Democratic Party, among others.

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