BERLIN – For the first time in half a century, German voters on Sunday elected members of a far-right, nationalist party into parliament, rendering Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union party’s victory a bit hollow.
“The change in the general political climate and the change in the positions of the moderate political parties, especially in the file of Islam and Muslims in Germany, is more dangerous than the rise of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party,” Dr. Khaled Hanafy, the head of the Fatwa authority in Germany, wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday night.
“Any underestimation of today’s results will naturally affect the thinking of the next phase requirements,” he added.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union won with a weak 32.9 percent of the vote, followed by the Social Democratic Party, with what observers have called a poor showing of 20.8 percent.
The Alternative for Germany Party, or AfD, founded in 2013, came third, with 13.1 percent of the popular vote, according to early election results.
Though the party has never won a seat before in the parliament, it is likely to have 94 seats in the 631-member Bundestag.
“We’re going chase down Frau Merkel (Chancellor Angela Merkel) and whoever else gets in our way until we get back our country,” AfD co-founder and co-chairman Alexander Gauland said shortly after exit polls were released when voting ended.
Speaking to the Tagesspiegel newspaper in Berlin, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, called the AfD a “party that agitates against minorities.”
For now, their target is Muslims, he noted. “But I am convinced that when the topic of Muslims is no longer interesting, and it becomes politically and socially opportune to switch to another minority, they could easily do so. And I include Jews in that number.”
The AfD is the first far-right party in the national parliament since the German Right Party won seats in 1949 for one term.
Many voters said Sunday they were voting mainly to keep the AfD out of parliament because they view the party as reactionary and hope its prominence is short-lived.
“That party is completely brutal. Their rhetoric and everything they stand for is so unkind,” Linn Nguyan, 24, a business student in Berlin, told USA Today.
“I hope the era of the AfD won’t last long.”