Majority of AfD supporters would vote for Germany to leave the EU | News | DW | 22.06.2016

Visit the new DW website

Take a look at the beta version of We're not done yet! Your opinion can help us make it better.

  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages


Majority of AfD supporters would vote for Germany to leave the EU

A new poll has found that the vast majority of Germans are for remaining in the EU. When it comes to the country's major parties, only AfD's supporters would back a "Brexit"-style departure.

The results of the poll were published on Wednesday in the latest issue of Germany's Stern magazine, one day before Britons vote in the long-anticipated Brexit referendum.

According to the poll, which had a margin of error of 3 percentage points, an overwhelming majority of Germans - 79 percent - support remaining in the EU. Only 17 percent are for leaving.

Supporters of all the country's major political parties, including Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), back remaining in the EU. The glaring exceptions are those who support anti-mass-migration populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD); almost two-thirds said they would vote to leave.

Germans' message to Europe: 'I like the EU'

The outcome of the poll, conducted by the Forsa Institute, shows little change in sentiment across the various parties when compared with previous polls overseen by the organization.

GB London Brexit Kampagne Vote Leave Schilder

Britons pushing for their country to vote "Leave" in the referendum

In a statement published in Stern, Forsa Institute chief Manfred Güllner said the results were in line with expectations.

"These results confirm once again the Germans' friendliness toward Europe, which has existed for years," Güllner said. "And they show once again just how far removed the AfD is from the vast majority of people it claims to represent."

Europe: Germany's natural partner

Additionally, 62 percent of Germans said they would regret a British exit from the EU, and 63 percent said the EU, despite its problems, still has a future.

Hans Kundnani, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund (GMF) in Berlin, told DW that the numbers were reflective of Germany's historic relationship with the rest of the continent. Whereas Britain has always viewed its relationship with Europe as just one option of several - the others being its relationships with the US and the Commonwealth countries - Germany "has never had any other options - it's always been just Europe," Kundnani said.

"Even through the worst moments of German history, Germans have always imagined their future in a European context," he explained.

Another important factor is that Germany helped steer the EU from the beginning. "You do have a European Union now that is to a much greater extent based on German preferences than it is on British preferences," Kundnani said.

AfD: no fringe party

München Frauke Petry AfD

AfD head Frauke Petry

Contrary to Güllner, however, Kundnani doesn't see the AfD, which began as a euroskeptic party before shifting its platform to focus on immigration, as an anomaly in the German political landscape.

"I think sometimes there's this tendency by the German political elite to downplay the change in German attitudes toward Europe," he said, pointing to the significant gains made by the anti-EU AfD in state elections last March. Contrary to what Forsa's poll suggests, those attitudes "have changed dramatically" over the years, Kundnani argued. Specifically, the aftermath of the 2010 financial crisis and the ongoing situation with migrants entering Germany has angered many around the country.

While he said it's too soon to predict how the outcome of the Brexit referendum will impact those attitudes going forward, Kundnani emphasized that AfD is "here to stay."

"Particularly since the refugee crisis, Germany has become a much more unpredictable place," he said.

DW recommends