Far-right AfD gains popularity amidst energy crisis, recession fears – polls
Die Welt / Clean Energy Wire
After a long period of stagnation, the far-right political party Alternative for Germany (AfD) is regaining popularity, as rising costs resulting from the energy crisis start to take a toll on German households and businesses, newspaper Welt reports. The party has positioned itself as the spearhead of protest against soaring energy prices and seems to have found a second life with this thematic swing, the newspaper says. Polls show overall support for the party has gone up across Germany to 15 percent, with strategic research company pollytix reporting a steady increase in national support since July. In Lower Saxony, support for the AfD grew to nine percent in the recent election, up four percentage points compared to the 2017 state election.
The AfD, which entered the national parliament in 2017 on a platform of rigorous anti-immigration positions and also opposed pandemic containment measures by the previous government, blames the energy crisis entirely on the centre-left “traffic light” coalition – comprised of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP). The topic of economic policy gives the party a less extremist look compared to its stance on migration, climate protection and the COVID-19 pandemic, Welt reports. The AfD can now present itself as fact-oriented, but traces of radical right-wing tendencies remain, with party leaders calling for resumed business with Russia, the newspaper says. “The price of gas will return to normal if we buy cheap gas from Russia,” parliamentary group chair Tino Chrupalla said during a demonstration against the government’s energy policy organised by his party, demanding the repair and opening of both Nord Stream pipelines.
After significant delivery reductions, Russian gas imports into Germany were completely halted in September, reducing available energy supply and resulting in skyrocketing gas and electricity prices. To protect households and businesses, the German government has adopted three relief packages with a combined worth of around 95 billion euros. Additionally, a 200-billion-euro ‘defence shield’ to lower gas prices was agreed on in late September.