The Alternative for Germany (AfD), a far-right party in Germany, is experiencing a significant surge in popularity, alarming mainstream political parties. The party is on

track to win three state votes in the eastern part of the country, capitalizing on its anti-immigration and anti-green agenda.

Current polls indicate that the AfD is polling at 17-19% nationwide, reaching a record high for the party. It now competes with Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democrats for second place in some surveys, a significant increase from its fifth-place position in the 2021 election, where it secured 10.3% of the vote.

The last time the AfD reached such heights was in 2018 during Europe's migrant crisis. This time, the party has also benefited from internal conflicts within Scholz's three-way coalition.

The rise of far-right parties is a trend seen across Europe, with the far-right becoming stronger rivals in countries like France, and even forming part of the government in Italy and Sweden.

However, the AfD's rise is particularly sensitive in Germany due to the country's Nazi past. The party, known for its criticism of the German government's immigration policies, surging inflation rates, and costly green transition, strikes a chord with a certain segment of the population.

Germany's domestic spy agency has labeled the AfD's youth wing as "extremist," accusing it of promoting a "racial concept of society." The agency's head has also accused the party of spreading Russian propaganda about the Ukraine war and opposing sanctions on Russia.

While mainstream parties in Germany have ruled out cooperating with the AfD to keep it out of government, critics of the party worry that its rise is pushing mainstream politics further to the right.

Migration is becoming an increasingly important issue in Germany's political landscape. Politicians like Michael Kretschmer, the premier of the eastern German state of Saxony, have called for limits on refugees and reductions in benefits, stating that the number of migrants is too high.

The AfD, which denies human activity as a cause of climate change, has also tapped into concerns about the costs associated with transitioning away from fossil fuels. It has criticized the policies of the Greens, Scholz's junior coalition partner, accusing them of causing economic strife, inflation, and de-industrialization.

In upcoming state elections in Thuringia, Saxony, and Brandenburg, the AfD is projected to come out on top for the first time, with support ranging from 23% to 28%.

Analysts attribute the AfD's success in the east to factors such as lower incomes in the region, lingering frustrations from reunification, and the perception that mainstream parties have failed to address these issues adequately.

Even if the AfD remains out of power, its rise has affected other parties, forcing them into more complex coalitions at the state and national levels, particularly in the east where the AfD is strongest.

Some political scientists suggest that the AfD's rise could lead to calls for conservatives to align more closely with the party, even if not in a formal coalition, rather than aligning with the left.

While some believe that the AfD's surge is temporary and a result of current crises, such as inflation and energy prices, others remain concerned. The coalition government is confident that by addressing the country's challenges and delivering effective governance, support for the AfD can be diminished.

The situation in Germany reflects the broader trend of the far-right gaining traction across Europe, raising questions about the future direction of politics in the region. Photo by Cherubino, Wikimedia commons.