BERLIN – Alternative for Germany was founded four years ago at the height of the eurozone crisis, when opposition to a German bailout of other countries using the common currency was strong.
The party narrowly failed to pass the 5-percent threshold to enter parliament in 2013 on a euroskeptic platform, a hurdle it handily took this time around following a campaign focused heavily on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy.
Known by its German acronym AfD, the party is projected to take about 13 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election, giving it the third-largest caucus in Parliament behind Merkel’s bloc and the Social Democrats.
Political analysts say AfD’s success is all the more remarkable because it has drifted steadily rightward in a country where voters are sensitive to any revival of the extreme nationalism that brought Adolf Hitler to power 84 years ago.
STRONG IN THE EAST
Alternative for Germany’s base is in the formerly communist east of the country. The party is projected to take more than 21 percent of the vote there, about twice as much as in the west.
Anxiety over immigration is particularly strong in the east, despite the relatively low percentage of immigrants in the region, and leaders there have been among the most hard-line in their views.