Poll: Populists Are Set For A Big Election Night In Germany

REUTERS/Michelle Martin

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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Populist party the Alternative for Germany (AfD) is making a late push in polls to place itself as the third largest party ahead of Sunday’s general election.

AfD looks set to make the parliament for the first time with 11 percent’s backing, according to a Forschungsgruppe Wahlen poll released Thursday for broadcaster ZDF. The party has primarily focused on an anti-immigration agenda during the campaign after growing to significance during the migrant crisis. A successful election night would break a longstanding taboo in the country that has kept populists out of politics for decades.

The pro-business Free Democrats are close behind at 10 percent, while the Left Party (8.5 percent) and the Greens (8 percent) battle for fifth. Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) holds onto a comfortable lead at 36 percent, while the Social Democrats (SPD) have fallen to 21 percent.

AfD’s surge could make it the largest opposition party if Merkel and CDU continue to rule in a coalition with SPD. Merkel has urged eligible voters to cast their ballots to kept AfD’s influence as low as possible. The chancellor argued the party’s platform is incompatible with German constitution Thursday in an interview with MDR radio.

“My request to everyone is that they vote, and vote for those parties that adhere 100 percent to our constitution,” Merkel told MDR radio.

AfD has surged despite stream of negative media coverage. Alice Weidel, one of the party’s two leading candidates, allegedly called Merkel a “pig” while describing the country as “overrun” by Arabs in an email leaked two weeks before election. Weidel firmly denies she ever wrote the email, and AfD accused newspaper Welt am Sonntag of running a smear campaign against the party.

Alexander Gauland, the other leading candidate, made headlines after suggesting Germany has a right to be proud of its soldiers who fought in the world wars.

“We have the right to reclaim not just our country, but also our past,” he said during a party meeting.

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