Alternative für Deutschland – Germany’s
UKIP?

By Moritz Strittmatter

Over the last couple of weeks the rapid emergence of a new political party has made rounds in Germany.

The party called Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), ‘an alternative for Germany’ is named after the infamous expression by chancellor Merkel stating that the steps taken to secure the continuity of the euro as the European single currency are alternativlos or lacking in alternative. The party’s manifesto makes very clear that it differs in opinion:

  • An ordered dismantling of the single currency – either via reinstating the former national currency or through establishing smaller and more economically compatible currency zones.
  • A change in the European treaties that would enable each country the choice of exit from the single currency, as each nation should retain the right to democratically choose its own currency.
  • Using the immediate and total termination of any further auxiliary credits granted through the German veto in the European Council.
  • The states that are unable to fund themselves as a consequence of being a member of the euro should perform a debt ‘haircut’ effectively putting the costs on the investors the money is owed to.

The further positions in their manifesto broadly align themselves with that of many right-wing/liberal political parties, many of the points raised also being very similar to the ideals of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

The comparison lends itself in that both of their key political aims include a substantial repatriation of powers back to the national governments and at least a nominal stance for general liberal ideals.

However early declarations by some members of the German nationalist National Democratic party (NPD) were already raising concerns similar to ones faced by UKIP, as there had been discussion in far-right circles to ‘infiltrate’ the young party.

Of further interest in the political spectrum of Germany will be the reaction by the classical liberal Free Democratic party (FDP), which had faced political woes over the past few months and may lose further support, given that recent polls suggest 17% ‘could imagine’ choosing AfD at the next general election in September.

In this sense at least AfD can mark out a clearer political stance than UKIP holds towards the Conservatives, as the issue of Europe is of greater significance in Germany’s current affairs and that without a substantial shift in party political opinion, the way the European debt crisis is handled will indeed become alternativlos.

Moritz is an MA student in politics at law at the University of Sheffield and hails from Cologne, Germany.

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