Anti-Immigrant Party Draws In More Germans as Vote Nears

Anti-Immigrant Party Draws In More Germans as Vote Nears, by Anton Troianovski.

WISMAR, Germany—Candidate Georg Pazderski of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany spent nearly half his speech in this harbor town earlier this week highlighting the danger of Islamist terrorism. Chancellor Angela Merkel dispatched the topic in roughly 80 seconds in an address here the next day.

As this country’s election campaign reaches its crescendo ahead of Sunday’s vote, its participants appear to be fighting different battles. …

The Alternative for Germany [AfD] is creeping up in the polls while positioning itself as the only party sounding the alarm about what it says is the existential threat posed by Muslim immigration.

The AfD, as the party is known, is now polling above 10%, less than its peak early this year and well below what other far-right parties elsewhere in Europe have garnered in recent elections. But for Germany, if the polls hold, its impending entry into parliament would mark a turning point in a country where right-wing populism has long been banished from mainstream discussion. …

In the center of Wismar, a Baltic seaport town of about 45,000 people, an outdoor-goods store advertises $7 cans of self-defense spray next to the thermoses and water bottles in its window.

“The demand is very, very high in Wismar because there are many foreigners,” an employee said. …

In the village of Burghaun-Steinbach in central Germany, local AfD candidate Martin Hohmann brought a worn copy of the Qur’an with him and read aloud passages he said showed Islam to be a religion incompatible with the West. In the southwestern city of Pforzheim, the party filled a hall of more than 1,000 people earlier this month and promised to form a parliamentary opposition so intense “you’ve never seen it before.”

The party’s ratings have risen despite widespread criticism in the German news media of openly xenophobic statements from some of its leaders. Alexander Gauland, who coleads the party ticket, said he wanted to “dispose of” a German-born politician of Turkish heritage by sending her to Turkey and stood by the statement even after Ms. Merkel accused him of racism.

A reader in southern Germany comments:

It seems me as the election campaign in Germany is not very democratic this time. Around here in Baden Würtemberg it seems that the so called Anti-Fa movement has got the upper hand. They can beat up people, burn, and vandalize as thy want. With federal funding. The police stand by looking on, hands in pockets.

I think one reason reason for the increasing support for AfD, is the general feeling that the left is above the law.