Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) are oft presented as Germany’s answer to UKIP. They’re renowned for their neo-liberal economic policies, a particular favourite amongst the middle-classes, as well as their staunch opposition to the Merkel regime’s disastrous migrant policies and their favour of national sovereignty over further European Union integration. As this relatively moderate platform suggests, “radical” is not a tag people associate with them, or that they would like to be associated with. Naturally, the Marxists of Die Linke and the masked Antifa crazies shout “NAZI” at the tops of their voices whenever AfD is mentioned, but this is not really a genuine mainstream appraisal of the party.
This often leads to actual radicals and nationalists criticising AfD for being too soft. Their outward presentation of a pro-Israel, small-c conservative party of democrats who speak of religion not race, has created this image to their right that they’re fake nationalists or pseudo-nationalists. Indeed, I myself penned an article some months ago before the Berlin state elections that described the party with very disparaging adjectives precisely because I believed them to be a moderate, establishment patriot party in the mould of UKIP or Donald Trump.
However, certain events in recent months have led me to take a different stance. Being a new party, their ideology is evolving and developing all the time, and this shows through their sometimes rusty, even clumsy delivery and the many public gaffs and blunders that the establishment press uses to beat them down. But this rawness also provides us with rare glimpses of the true beliefs of the party or, as the media would say, “when the mask slips”.
Just put yourself in their shoes for a moment and imagine the scene when the major players came together to write a party programme and present it to the world. Their primary objective is, as should be the case with any party, to be electable and as the intelligent people that they are, they would be all too well aware that the establishment machine wouldn’t let them within a million miles of any German state institution with a radical nationalist platform. They would have seen how the National Democratic Party (NPD) have attempted this and failed.
Thus the logical path to take is to play the part of wolves in sheeps’ clothing, or to “hide their power level” as the popular internet term goes. Regardless of their true beliefs, they know that the first objective is to become a popular movement that the public at large can feel comfortable supporting and voting for and all the evidence suggests that this is the best way to achieve it. Now I’m not saying that if elected to govern they would suddenly switch and deport every Turk in German territory, but I think many nationalists would be pleasantly surprised by their hypothetical programme once in power.
And this opinion is not without reasonable foundation. There have been many incidences where, as the media would say, the mask has slipped and prominent members of AfD have revealed opinions that they would perhaps have rather kept out of the public eye, or even that would not appear out of place in the truly nationalistic NPD. The first indication of this was the case of MEP and leading AfD member Beatrix von Storch, who was forced to back-peddle after suggesting German border guards should be empowered to shoot illegal immigrants and refugees flooding across Germany’s border. Even her retraction of these comments was halfhearted, refusing to rule out shooting migrant women after reluctantly ruling out armed force against “child” refugees.
Notably, her party was not quick to condemn her comments as would be the case in Britain when Nigel Farage dares to suggest Romanian gypsies commit a lot of crime. The only internal condemnation that did arrive was weak at best. However, condemnation for another AfD member’s comments was available in abundance in the case of Björn Höcke, when the senior AfD politician was reported to the police by leftist protesters for speaking the unspeakable; at a rally in Dresden, he referred to a holocaust memorial as a statue of shame, suggesting Germans should feel less guilt about their nationalist past.
He referred to the firebombing of Dresden in 1944-45, as well as the weakening and neutering of Germany by the victorious allies at the end of the Second World War. Of course, condemnation was widespread and incredibly vocal. But what do we expect, after a German politician had broken the greatest taboo in living memory? Senior members of AfD called for an immediate enquiry into the matter suggesting to the media that Höcke would be thrown out of the party for his comments. Höcke also caused quite the stir when it transpired he advocated abolishing section 86 & 130 of the German Criminal Code which prevents the spread of propaganda by unconstitutional means.
Quite curiously for the nationalist observer, the supposed enquiry into Höcke’s comments and conduct went rather quiet and he remains a valued member of AfD as they head into the national election in two weeks’ time. He was also part of a WhatsApp group consisting of many leading members of the AfD, in which “Germany for the Germans” (VolksDeutsche), a phrase popular with the nationalist NPD, was banded around as a matter of course.
More recently and as part of an undoubted smear campaign ahead of the national election, the establishment German press has published an email supposedly sent by AfD parliamentary candidate Alice Weidel in which she claimed Germany was being “overrun by Arabs, Sinti and Roma” thanks to the “enemies of the constitution who govern us”. The email goes on to describe the establishment politicians as “pigs, nothing other than marionettes of the victorious powers of the second world war, whose task it is to keep down the German people.”
She also describes Merkel and her cronies as “puppets”, with the implication that they are the stooges of the US-led victorious WWII allied powers. Of course, her PR and legal teams strenuously deny that she ever wrote the email, and why wouldn’t they with a national election looming? Of course Weidel will say whatever the media and the establishment demands of her in order to save face for 24th September, as this is the clever way of being elected in the face of seemingly insurmountable media, political and financial pressure. She would endear herself to many a nationalist by admitting she wrote it and standing by her words, but realistically she would alienate the sorts of people the party needs to win over if they are to become a serious force in German politics.
It’s perfectly reasonable to suppose that the membership of AfD are equally hiding their true beliefs. After all, their primary voter base comprises of petite bourgeois middle-class who are naturally right-wing but consider themselves too civilised to vote for or support the NPD with their somewhat loutish, skinhead reputation. Therefore, it’s less than fair for nationalists to write them off as merely another controlled opposition for not being so outlandish in their public beliefs. One day, should they ever manage to win power in Germany, they may have played the entire media, political and financial machine like a fiddle.