German anti-euro party poised to gain ground

Alternative for Deutschland tipped to capture five percent of seats required for representation in the Bundestag.

    Germany's anti-euro AfD party could capture seats in parliament in Sunday's general election and diminish Chancellor Angela Merkel's chances of holding on to her centre-right coalition, according to a new poll.

    The Alternative for Deutschland (AfD), founded by a professor who believes the single European currency is a disastrous money pit for Germany, scored five percent in the poll by independent institute Insa on Thursday.

    That figure is the bare minimum required for representation in the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

    Until now the AfD had been credited with around three to four percent.

    Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats held steady at 38 percent, according to the poll, while their current coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democrats, gained two points to six percent.

    Analysts say that the entry of an AfD bloc in parliament would rob Merkel's coalition of a governing majority based on current estimates of its number of seats.

    Such an outcome would most likely force her to form a left-right "grand coalition" with the Social Democrats (SPD), who scored 28 percent, up one point, in the latest poll.

    Their preferred partners, the opposition Greens, tallied eight percent, making a centre-left alliance under SPD candidate Peer Steinbrueck look out of reach.

    The far-left Die Linke reached nine percent but the Social Democrats have ruled it out as a potential partner.

    'Populist' party

    The AfD has been labelled populist in German media and garnered negative headlines for accounting irregularities and some members' reported far-right leanings.

    Its main message is that bailout packages for debt-mired southern European countries have made the euro untenable for Germany and called for a return to the deutschmark.

    If the AfD becomes the first new party to enter the Bundestag since 1990, Merkel would probably have to negotiate a coalition with the pro-European opposition Social Democrats (SPD), with whom she governed in 2005-2009.

    The INSA poll was also the first to be taken after Bavarian conservatives won a regional election last Sunday - but it showed no bounce for Merkel in the national race.

    The ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) had tried to ignore the AfD, but abruptly changed its approach this week and deployed Wolfgang Schaeuble, the respected finance minister, to attack the sceptics, who want Greece and other bailout recipients out of the euro.

    The 71-year-old Schaeuble, a veteran supporter of European integration, said the AfD's anti-euro argument "has no credibility and is extremely dangerous for our prosperity".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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