|A delegate of Germany's anti-euro party "Alternative fuer Deutschland" (Alternative for Germany) waves |
a German flag during the first party congress in Berlin.
Merkel's "Conservative" Christian Democrats are in trouble with real Conservatives
- Voters are frustrated when they vote for Conservatives on election day only to end up with "moderate" big spending Socialists.
With less than five months to go before parliamentary elections in Germany, a new political party that is calling for an end to the European currency union is gaining strength.
The party, Alternative for Germany, held its first formal party congress on Sunday at a Berlin hotel. It has emerged as a wild card ahead of the September elections and poses a potential threat to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s re-election prospects.
|Chancellor Angela Merkel|
just another big spending Socialist
The new party is driven by a collection of elites, not a groundswell from the streets, starting with Bernd Lucke, 50, a Hamburg economics professor.
Lucke, along with many of the new party’s supporters, previously belonged to Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union before the Greek bailouts forced him to reconsider reports the New York Times.
“We want to put an end to the flagrant breach of democratic, legal and economic principles that we have seen in the past three years, because Chancellor Merkel’s government said there is no alternative,” Lucke told more than 1,500 supporters on Sunday. “Now it is here, the Alternative for Germany.”
Lucke says the euro is dividing Europe rather than uniting it, as the single currency was meant to do. He has the support of a group of fellow academics who filed a case before Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court against the bailouts.
'Euro dead, stop the surgery' - Alternative for Germany Party
Anti-euro sentiment is going mainstream in Germany - with the launch of a new party dedicated to pulling the plug on the struggling single currency. The group - called 'Alternative for Germany' - says it has already received thousands of membership requests.
|Alternative for Germany Party|
Right-of-center voters are tired of phony big spending "Conservatives" like
Merkel and Britain's David Cameron.
For months, the Conservative CDU and the Free Democrat Party have sought to ignore the Alternative for Germany in the hopes that it would simply disappear as so many anti-euro movements have in the past. Instead, though, the party has quickly grown. Earlier this month, it surpassed the 10,000 member mark -- just seven weeks after its official founding -- and it has attracted widespread interest among the German electorate.
More worrisome, significant elements within Merkel's CDU have grown uncomfortable with massive bailouts of heavily indebted euro-zone member states, with several conservative lawmakers either abstaining or voting no on aid packages in German parliament last year. While no parliamentarians have yet abandoned the CDU, the Alternative for Germany has proven adept at attracting lower-ranking CDU and FDP members. Just last week, a state lawmaker with the FDP in Hesse named Jochen Paulus switched parties reports Der Spiegel International.
Many see the AfD as a political home representing what German conservatives used to stand for, before Merkel moved the CDU to the center in recent years. And before the euro crisis forced Berlin to embark on the expensive path of saving the common European currency. While most Germans remain favorable toward the euro, a significant number are not -- and many of them are political conservatives.
The fact that AfD head Bernd Lucke is a professor of economics, with many of the other founders working as economists, academics, lawyers or business leaders, has also helped. For one, it lends the party the aura of respectability and expertise. For another, it has helped the party to quickly navigate the various bureaucratic obstacles for establishing a party and getting on the ballot.
Furthermore, even as there have been some complaints that the party has not done enough to clearly define its right-most boundary. Party leadership has also been careful to keep a tight rein on the kind of cranks who often plague new political movements, even if that has meant strict limits on grassroots influence on strategic decisions.