Angela Merkel is in trouble.
The “Iron Chancellor” may be facing the biggest challenge of her political career — German public opinion has shifted on the country’s welcoming to the hundreds of thousands of refugees moving up from south-eastern Europe towards their country.
There’s little sign so far that the German population at large wants to reject the refugees fleeing to their nation (or even that they could), but there’s transparently much more concern about how the country will facilitate such a large inflow of migrants.
One result of that is the sudden upswing of support for Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the country’s right-wing and eurosceptic party.
The AfD are to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats what Nigel Farage’s UKIP is to the British Conservative Party. They’re not only an outlet for general anger, they’re also a grave threat, sapping support from the mainstream centre-right.
After a leadership crisis and a loss of public attention, the AfD’s support had dwindled below 5% for a significant portion of 2015. But their popularity has spiked in recent months, as the scale of the refugee crisis has become apparent.
Here’s how the party’s polling average now looks:
In fact, in a poll conducted between November 13 and November 16 and released on Tuesday, the AfD hit 10.5%, its highest single poll ever. Its average over the last five polls sits at 8.7%, a high only reached once before, a year ago.
The latest poll also puts them in third place nationally, beating Die Linke, the leftist bloc, and the German Greens.
Here’s what Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, said about the German political landscape in October:
A populist backlash against immigration is potentially a more serious threat to the cohesion of Europe and hence to its economic and political future than the much-hyped euro crisis ever was. Across Europe, the right-wing populists who rail most vocally against immigration are usually strongly anti- European as well. They try to undermine the political will to keep Europe together.
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