1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Pegida leader seeks alliance with AfD

March 1, 2016

The 'anti-Islamization' Pegida protest group proposed partnering with the right-wing populist AfD. Polls show at least 10 percent of voters support the AfD, whose co-chair dismissed such an alliance.

Dresden Pegida Demonstration Lutz Bachmann
Lutz Bachmann is the founder and head of the Pegida groupImage: Reuters/H. Hanschke

Looking to gain from the political boost the far-right populist Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has received amid mounting public concern over the migration crisis, the anti-Islamic Pegida movement has suggested forming a political party and cooperating with the AfD.

Once pulling up to 20,000 protesters to weekly rallies in Dresden last year, Pegida, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, has witnessed numbers at its protests dwindle to the low thousands as the movement has been beset by scandals and pro-immigration counter-demonstrations.

At the same time, as the refugee crisis in Germany mounts, the right-wing AfD has seen its support in polls rise to 10 percent - a trend that has caused alarm among Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU and the Social Democrats in her grand coalition.

Pegida's controversial leader, Lutz Bachmann, has now revived earlier calls to form its own party at a rally attended by an estimated 3,000 protestors in Dresden on Monday.

Without answering how and when the anti-Islam movement would become a party, Bachmann said the AfD and Pegida should come together on a joint electoral list, citing a "large overlap" in the two groups' concerns.

The proposal, however, appears to have little traction. AfD co-chair Frauke Petry said over the weekend that she understands why citizens protest in the streets, but that the AfD would remain independent from any other party or movement.

Afd Bundesparteitag in Hannover Frauke Petry
AfD leader Frauke Petry made skeptical comments about partnering with another partyImage: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Pförtner

The AfD, running on a nationalist platform that includes distancing Germany from the European Union, has capitalized on opposition to Chancellor Merkel's refugee policy to boost its numbers.

Already having garnered the 5 percent minimum support to join several state parliaments, the party rose to as high as 17 percent in surveys in Saxony-Anhalt just a few weeks ahead of regional elections there, placing it ahead of the long established Social Democratic Party (SPD).

AfD looks set to enter three state parliaments in regional elections in March, this could provide sufficient momentum for the AfD to join the federal parliament, or Bundestag, next year.

cw/gsw (dpa, epd)

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

In this 2019 file photo, Russian helicopters and a Russian warship are pictured during a military parade in Sevastopol
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage