Angela Merkel’s party may have won the general election today, but 13% of the voting population said “No” to her refugee policy by choosing the right-wing nationalists Alternative for Germany (AfD). AfD co-head Alexander Gauland immediately told supporters his party would launch a parliamentary investigation into Merkel for her handling of the refugee crisis. The AfD would “hunt” Merkel and “take back our country and our people,” he said.
That more than 13% of German voters chose the anti-Islam, anti-refugee right wing party reflects the simmering resentment among the population two years after the height of the refugee crisis. More than one million of them were people who hadn’t voted in the last election (or weren’t old enough) and another million AfD supporters had last voted for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Why did they choose the AFD? An Infratest Dimap poll after the election found that half of those who voted for the party said they “understood better than the other parties how people feel.” More than a third found it good that the AfD wanted to reduce the influence of Islam in Germany and planned to limit the number of refugees entering the country. Almost all AfD supporters worry that German culture and way of life is under threat.
A Bertlesman Institute survey last summer found that German populists have only one main axe to grind: refugees. “If we hadn’t had this refugee crisis in Germany, then we wouldn’t be…