AfD ′not an alternative for Germany′ in ex-capital Bonn | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 14.08.2016
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AfD 'not an alternative for Germany' in ex-capital Bonn

As the Alternative for Germany's party conference got underway in Kassel, DW hit the streets of Bonn to see what residents of the former capital make of the AfD's poll success. Kate Brady reports.

It was a hot August Sunday in Bonn, the former capital of West Germany, and the humidity was thick. For Peter, a 43-year-old software developer from nearby Cologne, Germany's summer temperatures aren't the only thing getting him hot under the collar.

"If there's one thing that makes my blood boil right now, it's the AfD," he told DW, referring to the Alternative for Germany party. "Right-wing populists, racist, xenophobic - what is there positive to say?"

"How many more outlandish statements need to be made before something is done to stop the AfD growing?" he asked. "This isn't the 'alternative for Germany.'"

Most recently, one of AfD's two leaders, Frauke Petry, proposed that rejected asylum-seekers and unauthorized migrants be sent to islands outside of Europe. In January, Petry had suggested that police should have the right to shoot migrants at the border "if necessary."

Frauke Petry

AfD leader Frauke Petry said rejected asylum-seekers should be sent to islands outside Europe

Growing support

The AfD's poll numbers have grown in recent months. Founded in 2013, the party currently holds seats in eight of Germany's 16 state parliaments, a figure that has caused concern for many voters.

With Germany's parliamentary elections set for November 2017, 32-year-old Ngoc said the AfD should not be underestimated.

"Unfortunately, I think the AfD will do well next November," Ngoc said. "I think they could definitely get into the Bundestag."

"At the same time, I think and I hope they're just a flash in the pan," Ngoc said.

"The Pirate Party had their time in the spotlight on the left side of the political spectrum," Ngoc said, "and now it's the AfD."

Using the news

With a membership of 24,000, the AfD has been bolstered in recent months by connecting security fears in Germany to Chancellor Angela Merkel's asylum policies.

"These AfD voters are protest voters," an 81-year-old who identified himself as Mr. Klein said. "There are many problems at the moment that the government needs to resolve," he added.

"One issue, for example, is the burqa," Klein said. "Germans are overwhelmingly against the burqa. And yet it remains. France and Belgium have banned it. Germany can do exactly the same."

In recent weeks, several German officials have called for a national ban on the full-body covering worn by some Muslim women. On Friday, Julia Klöckner, the leading Christian Democrat in the state of Rhineland Palatinate, said the burqa was "not a sign of religious diversity, but stands for a degrading image of women."

In an interview with ZDF scheduled for broadcast Sunday evening, German President Joachim Gauck said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had made it quite clear that there would be no burqa ban on his watch - a decision the president said he was happy with.

'Nothing positive'

Twenty-nine-year-old Dennis said the AfD had attempted to turn headlines into propaganda.

Felicitas, university student in Bonn

Law student Felicitas said the AfD's ideas were reminiscent of the past

"They're using populist methods to create fear," Dennis said. "There's nothing positive to say about the AfD."

"But the government needs to take people's concerns more seriously," Dennis said. "Berlin needs to stop playing down these fears to stop people turning to parties like the AfD."

Twenty-four-year-old law student Felicitas is also troubled by the rate at which the AfD has garnered support.

"That they've even managed to come this far is completely unacceptable," Felicitas said. "They have aims and ideas that are reminiscent of the past."

According to the most recent DeutschlandTrend poll, the AfD has the support of 12 percent of voters - more than double the required 5 percent to enter the Bundestag. But, despite the AfD's relative success in the surveys, an internal power struggle could unsettle the party.

"The party still has a lot of problems to iron out before next year's general election," 52-year-old Sabine said. She added: "We can only hope that these internal scuffles mark the beginning of the end for the AfD."

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