Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

German Populists Say They Face Election Discrimination

  • Alternative for Germany complains to OSCE about Sept. 24 vote
  • Monitors invited to observe third German election in a row

Germany’s main populist party told outside monitors it faces discrimination in the country’s election campaign, even as polls suggest it’ll win seats in the national parliament for the first time.

Alternative for Germany, of AfD, made the complaint to delegates of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who are preparing an observer mission for Germany’s election on Sept. 24, according to an OSCE report. The Vienna-based group also monitored two previous national votes in 2009 and 2013.

“Concerns were raised during the needs-assessment mission about the ability to campaign freely, specifically in relation to a number of recent politically-motivated incidents, including physical attacks, mostly against the AfD,” Thomas Rymer, an OSCE spokesman said by email on Wednesday.

Alternative for Germany is campaigning against immigration and what it portrays as a cartel of establishment politicians led by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bloc and the Social Democratic Party, which have jointly governed Europe’s biggest economy for eight of the last 12 years. After the AfD’s support peaked last year during Europe’s refugee crisis, it’s now running neck and neck with other smaller parties opposing Merkel’s coalition.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry invited the OSCE to monitor the election. The advance team’s report says there’s a need to “assess the campaign environment” and review campaign finance rules.

The AfD has reported physical violence against party members and struggled to hold an orderly party congress in Cologne in April amid protests by opponents. Its foes include Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer, who heads Merkel’s CSU sister party and has said a key election goal is to keep the AfD below the 5 percent threshold for gaining parliamentary seats.

Support for the AfD rose 1 percentage point to 8 percent in a weekly Forsa poll published Wednesday, which put Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc at 40 percent and the Social Democrats at 22 percent. The opposition Left and Green parties each polled 8 percent, as did the Free Democrats.

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