German Anti-Euro AfD Party Seeks Frustrated Merkel VotersRainer Buergin
Germany’s anti-euro party is shifting focus to family and education policies to lure disappointed supporters of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union in three eastern German states.
One month before a ballot in the CDU stronghold of Saxony and with elections in Brandenburg and Thuringia two weeks later, the Alternative for Germany party is advocating shifting resources to bigger families to slow the country’s population decline. The move away from a multi-tiered school system, which benefits better students, should be reversed, it says.
“We need more children in Germany and we need politicians who have the courage to speak about an active population policy again,” Frauke Petry, the party’s leading candidate in Saxony, told reporters in Berlin yesterday. “We want to promote the idea that it’s not the zero-child family or the one-child family, but the three-children family that should again be the standard in Germany.”
The AfD took 7 percent in its first run in the May 25 European Parliament elections, winning seats for the first time after narrowly failing to enter Germany’s lower house of parliament in September’s federal vote. The party is also at 7 percent support in Saxony, where the CDU’s Free Democrat coalition partner may fail to clear the 5 percent hurdle needed to gain seats.
Petry -- a mother of four and managing director of a company -- wants to give parents an extra vote for each child before the children are allowed to cast ballots themselves. She also said that the number of children should play a bigger role in determining income-tax and social-insurance payments.
The AfD’s election program for the three formerly communist states calls for more discipline in schools, opposes what it terms “re-education measures” such as gender mainstreaming, rejects gender-neutral language and opposes the mandatory inclusion of handicapped children in schools.
“Political correctness covers our country like mildew and I’m stepping up to clear it away,” said Bjoern Hoecke, the AfD’s top candidate in Thuringia and a former member of the youth organization of Merkel’s CDU.
Alexander Gauland, the AfD’s leading candidate in Brandenburg after a 40-year stint with the CDU, and a former deputy minister in the state of Hesse in a CDU government, said he sees crime-fighting as a priority in the state that borders Poland. He called for crime statistics to show the nationality and migration background of offenders.
“It has nothing to do with racism if I want to know as a citizen which groups of immigrants or foreigners have committed offenses,” Gauland said. “We have to argue very clearly that we think it’s wrong to present statistics in a way that doesn’t allow the truth to be seen.”
Gauland, who frequently comments on relations with Russia in his capacity as member of the party’s executive board at national level, said European Union policies toward the country led by President Vladimir Putin risk splitting Europe in two.
“Sanctions are always something that prompt states to seek lasting reorientation,” Gauland said, citing the German Reichsbank’s ban in 1887 on lending against Russian securities that pushed the Czar closer to France in the years before World War I. Today, “the Russians will look for other finance markets, probably in China, and we will see a further division of Europe.”
Fifty-two percent of Germans are in favor of tougher sanctions against Russia, according to a TNS-Infratest poll commissioned by Spiegel magazine that was taken after the downing of a Malaysian Air jet over eastern Ukraine two weeks ago, while 39 percent opposed tougher measures.