German Jewish leader calls populist AfD rise "frightening"

05.09.2016

Ahead of Sunday's elections in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the head of the German Jewish community said the rise of the right-wing populist and anti-migrant AfD party was "frightening".

The Alternative for Germany party won over 20 percent of the vote in the north-eastern state where Chancellor Angela Merkel has her electoral seat.

"The voters don't realise they are voting for a party that doesn't want to distance itself from the far-right spectrum," president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Josef Schuster told journalists last Friday.

The AfD, which gained support when Germany took in a huge influx of refugees, "offers just slogans, no solutions," said Schuster.

Merkel said in an RTL television interview she wanted to encourage people to vote "and to vote for parties that offer solutions to problems," adding that the AfD was not one of them.

The AFD, founded as an anti-EU party, has shifted to an anti-Islam and anti-migrant platform, protesting the arrival in Germany of a million asylum seekers in 2015.

Since 1945, no far-right party has managed to establish itself permanently in the German political landscape. But recent polls have given the AfD 10 to 15 percent support ahead of national elections next year.

Schuster said that if citizens were worried about the huge refugee influx and about recent jihadist attacks, then "to an extent this is understandable, but no reason to vote for the AfD."    (AFP)

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