For more than six decades, modern Germany’s taboo against rising right-wing populism held strong. But now it is broken.
For all that time, no party to the right of the Christian Democrat Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, was able to establish itself in German politics. But the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, already represented in three state governments, may soon manage to enter the country’s parliament. Not because it is so much more forceful than all the previous failed attempts, but because the conditions for a right-wing populist movement have not been this favorable.
The upheaval that the German state faces in the current refugee crisis very possibly constitutes the most far-reaching change in its history.
On one hand, it has mobilized an unforeseen readiness by Germans to help the refugees, along with an unprejudiced openness to something new. At the same time, it has awakened fears about the future, in addition to uncertainty and aggression. Any party that takes up and exacerbates this mood will find a place in the political structure.
If it were simply a matter of the AfD, there might not be particular reason to worry. But not only in the streets and on the Internet, but all the way to editorial columns of the established media, a rising anger is being voiced against impositions brought by the crisis — and against the chancellor who is held responsible for them.