German Right Underestimates Alternative Challenge

Angela Merkel Wolfgang Schäuble Sigmar Gabriel
German chancellor Angela Merkel confers with her finance and economy ministers, Wolfgang Schäuble and Sigmar Gabriel, January 23 (Bundesregierung)

Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats seem to underestimate the political challenge the Euroskeptic Alternative für Deutschland party poses to them. This is not a fringe movement, as many in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party would like to believe. Rather, the Alternative threatens their monopoly on the political right.

Merkel’s hawkish finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble — whose hardline positions on the euro are really closer to the Alternative‘s than those of ardent European federalists — said the Euroskeptic party was a “disgrace for Germany” on Thursday. Merkel herself has altogether ignored the new party while other conservatives have been as dismissive as Schäuble.

Not all, however. Christian Bäumler of the Christian Democratic Employees’ Association recognizes that vilifying the party does little to persuade right-wing voters. “We have to counter the AfD politically,” he told the Handelsblatt newspaper, “when, as in the regional elections in Brandenburg, they represent xenophobic or nationalist positions.” Read more “German Right Underestimates Alternative Challenge”

British, German Eurosceptics Join; Farage, Le Pen Seek Allies

Germany’s anti-euro party Alternative für Deutschland joined the group that is led by Britain’s Conservatives and the Polish Law and Justice party in the European Parliament on Thursday, giving them more seats than the mainstream liberals.

The Alternative, which won seven seats in May’s European Parliament election, joined the anti-federalist European Conservatives and Reformists, the mildest of three Euroskeptic groups in the assembly and now its third largest party.

The Danish People’s Party and the Fins Party earlier joined the reformists as well, defecting from the more radical Europe of Freedom and Democracy group that is led by Britain’s Nigel Farage.

Despite doubling its seats, Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party, which calls for Britain to leave the European Union, is struggling to find enough allies to continue to be recognized as a group in the European Parliament. Read more “British, German Eurosceptics Join; Farage, Le Pen Seek Allies”

German Conservatives Regard Euroskeptics Warily

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel listens during a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 13, 2012 (EPP)

Germany’s ruling party takes “seriously” competition from an upstart Euroskeptic party, its parliamentary leader said on Thursday, but has seemingly little reason to, given German voters’ overwhelming support for incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel.

Volker Kauder, the chairman of the Christian Democrat delegation in the Bundestag, told Die Welt newspaper that he respects opposition from Alternative für Deutschland, a party founded by academics and economists who advocate a German withdrawal from the European single currency, but argued that it “must offer more than a return to the D-Mark.”

The euro, according to Kauder, “will help Europe stay together” while an exit from the eurozone would jeopardize German exports and “thousands of jobs.” Read more “German Conservatives Regard Euroskeptics Warily”