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Turning Crisis into Success in Germany

A recent opinion poll indicates that the far-right Alternative for Germany party is rapidly gaining ground, with its popular support reaching 15%, compared to around 5% a year ago. But, with an effective refugee-integration strategy, this dangerous trend can be reversed.

BERLIN – According to an early May opinion poll by ARD DeutschlandTREND, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party’s popular support now stands at 15%, up from around 5% a year ago. Can this dangerous trend be reversed?

The AfD’s rise since last summer has been the direct result of the surge in the number of refugees – close to one million in 2015 – entering Germany. After all, the party has made opposition to admitting refugees the centerpiece of its platform, which also includes antagonism toward the European Union and a very conservative social program, to which an openly sectarian religious component was added at a May 3 party convention in Stuttgart.

Yet Germany’s broad political center continues to hold. The center-right Christian Democrats and their allies still have the support of about 33% of the electorate; the center-left Social Democrats have 20% support; and the Green Party is backed by some 13%. Even the Free Democrats have clawed their way back from hard times, and now have about 6% support.

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