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.
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.
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.”