The German election is a month away and with that also from a real rarity: a party getting into parliament which is on the “right” of Angela Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian partner, the CSU. Over the last decades, this has been a no-go zone in German politics, too severe were the memories of the Nazi era. But come September, the Alternative fr Deutschland (Alternative for Germany), or AfD, will set a landmark, beating the five percent threshold to get into parliament in all likelihood (currently they are polling between seven and ten percent).
As we have seen throughout the years, those considered as ‘right-wing populists’ in the mainstream are by no means a homogeneous group, from Brexiteers in the UKIP and on the fringe of the Tories as somewhat favorable examples to more frightening ones like Marine Le Pen in France. But what kind of party is the AfD?
The AfD was founded in 2013 by a bunch of economics professors – at first they were mockingly called’Professorenpartei’ (‘professor’s party’) – who were fed up by the crisis in Greece and demanded a German exit from the Eurozone. Among them were economists like Joachim Starbatty and Roland Vaubel, known in Germany for their free-market ideas. The goal was to found a party which would reconcile the cultural conservatism that was lost in the conservative CDU and the liberal economic policies that were lost in the classical-liberal party, the FDP. However, the AfD focused increasingly on refugees instead of the euro, which led to the departure of many of its founding members in 2015, including the leader up to that point, Bernd Lucke.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on August 30, 2017.