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Monday, April 08, 2013

The UKIP factor and German politics: All eyes on Alternative für Deutschland

Germany's new anti-euro Alternative für Deutschland party is still in its infancy but it has already generated huge interest at home and abroad. While we are not expecting it to cross the 5% threshold in September's federal elections - not even close - with polls between the CDU/CSU and FDP vs the SPD and Greens as tight as they are (see here for latest figures), AfD's electoral result could have a huge bearing on the nature of any coalition government that emerges from the elections, a point also made by Thorsten Junghold in today's Welt. He cites the recent regional election in Lower Saxony, where the CDU incumbent David McAllister came up short by 335 votes while the Free Voters (a separate euro-critical movement) scored 39,000.

As such the AfD could mirror the UKIP factor in the UK (though note that AfD is a very different beast to UKIP), where a party unlikely to enter parliament can still have a decisive effect on the election by tipping vote shares one way or another (ironic given the different voting systems in both countries), and consequently being able to enjoy a disproportionate impact on the national debate and media agenda.  For this reason it is very interesting to see where AfD's votes could come from - and this weekend saw the first (to our knowledge) breakdown of AfD's potential support measured at 24% of all voters:

Source: Infratest dipmap for Die Welt

So clearly the biggest share of AfD's potential support comes from the economically liberal FDP (46%) followed by the 'old left' and former communist Die Linke (29%), the SPD (21%), Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU (19%) and finally the Greens (14%).

This is interesting because it shows that despite AfD's ideological groundings and personnel make-up being more on the centre-right it could attract voters from all parties (also like UKIP). The strong support from Die Linke voters could be explained by the fact that the party has strongly campaigned against the eurozone bailouts, which AfD also opposes (albeit from a different ideological perspective), or even more simply purely as an alternative protest party now that the pirate party appears to have run out of steam.

Definitely a phenomenon we will be keeping a close eye on, meanwhile its worth reading the Sunday Telegraph's interview with party leader Bernd Lucke.


Rik said...

It looks to be only a danger for Merkel as it could assure that de FDP doesnot make the 5%.

Which most likley would mean that either the Greens or the SPD are required to form a majority government. Unlikely that SPD and Greens would manage that by themselves as things look now. SPD has Steinbruck and the Greens not have a proper PM candidate or anything remotely close as well.

FDP voters moving in that direction is an indication that business overall doesnot like the bail outs. My idea has always been that de FDP with adjustments could be much larger than they have ever been and not only have more than 5%. CDU has moved to the centre and is increasing welfare in general (unsustainable and likley unpopular with a lot of their traditional voters) and the Energychange will cost 2 Tn or so (Economic Blotsinn).

On the FDP:
-get rid of the morons in charge;
-profile as far left or even less left as the CDU, but stress unreligiousness and more business oriented (and subsequently no Euro-safer at all cost). Throw in anti-3rd world immigration and you have a perfect mix.
Anyway I donot see that happening.

AfD is not really putting pressure on Merkel. First we have to see if it gets North of 5%. If so probably still only if the FDP would take a hit so it would not return in parliament after the next election or Black/Yellow would fall below a majority.

UKIP is mainly eating from one party at least structurally. Votes come from everywhere but probably most as protest but it is clearly the 'Classic Conservative Party'. As long as it takes votes away from the Tories especially with the UK system it can hurt the Conservatives really hard.
As a consequence these simply have to react with adjusting their policies. As a party they can simply not allow to put IP on the map. Effectively they were considerably too late and Cameron lets a lot of chances slip to reverse the process. Not properly explaining that they are the De Facto referendum party. Reaching out to Farange he accepts is ok he doesnot is ok as well (latter makes him look like a mere protest party). Farange wants to cooperate with Labour but not with Cameron (need no further explaining).

Seen these figures AfD might profile itself more leftish as there are more votes there and that part (Greens, SPD ) are more pro-Europe than Merkel.

Rollo said...

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. I would be very surprised is AFD does not bite into the traditional quisling parties in Germany, just as the UKIP does in the UK.

christina speight said...

Open Europe is being far too simplistic in comparing the slow growth of UKIP to AfD.

Ukip has been steadily gaining credibility and expect to make major gains in the European Elections next year. (Some forecast a landslide) . In the UK it is much more difficult to gain a parliamentary seat than in Germany (where only 5% is needed) but much easier for (eg) UKIP to turn out of office scores of Conservative MPs.

AfD will have to do all itsa learning in the public gaze but I feel sure it will get SOME parliamentary representation this autumn.

Anonymous said...

"Not properly explaining that they are the De Facto referendum party. " - are you havin' a laugh?