Germany’s Right-Wing Crusaders | The National Interest

IN STUTTGART I was awoken by a large man outside my hotel window wearing a niqab. “I am the protest for the AfD / and that is totally ok!” went the hoarse refrain. It was the annual convention for the Alternative für Deutschland, Germany’s no longer fledgling far-right party. More than four thousand of the faithful had converged in Stuttgart to make it the largest rally of its kind in Germany since the war. (Unlike other German political parties, which send delegates to conventions, the AfD leadership, true to its populist credo, had invited all members to attend.) For AfDers passing by, the niqab man from Pforzheim was a Charlie Hebdo caricature come alive: a bit of a chore for the media-relations department, perhaps, but nevertheless a rude emblem of the cause. As I walked across the Stuttgart Messe from my hotel to the convention hall draped in the party’s sky-blue banners, the AfDers came under fire from young Greens and Antifascist protesters stationed in the adjacent parking lot, lobbing cake and packets of excrement over the security perimeter. “Blue is the new Brown!” they shouted. “Voting AfD is so 1933!” An Austrian venture capitalist directed me toward some cover, as we followed the AfD leaders through a thick row of bushes up an embankment into the main hall. “AfD forced to cut path through bushes. What poor rabbits!” was the comment of the Tageszeitung. “At least the bushes were German bushes.”

As a right-wing party that is likely to gain seats in the Bundestag in this September’s federal election, the AfD is more than a novelty in postwar German politics. In a country dominated by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), however, there are only so many inroads it can make before its more viable platforms are cannibalized by the CDU. Ever since Merkel was caught unawares on her right flank, she has been speaking AfD talking points—from the proposed burqa ban to the swifter banishment of undesirable…

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