Germany’s AfD builds on climate change dispute

Germany’s AfD builds on climate change dispute


Support for AfD, the far-right Alternative for Germany party, has soared to 18% in recent polls. The boost to the opposition party’s standing can be attributed to its campaign against the climate policies of the Green Party, a key member of the country’s ruling coalition government, plus its insistence that the federal government’s key policies represent a threat to national peace and prosperity, DW reports.
The far-right party continues to take serious issue with most aspects of current government policy. For example, it argues that the government should stress peace negotiations, not armaments’ deliveries with regard to the war in Ukraine. It also calls for tighter immigration controls at the nation’s borders rather than measures designed to recruit skilled workers.
Overall, the populist far-right party’s manifest opposition to the government’s energy and climate policy seems to be paying off, with support for AfD now registering 18%, according to national polls carried out by INSA and Infraset Dimap just this week. This latest showing puts them several points ahead of the Greens.
The current government comprises a coalition of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the neo-liberal Free Democrats (FDP), and the environmentalist Greens.
The AfD Bundestag parliamentary group leader, Alice Weidel, describes the federal government’s plans to convert home heating systems to renewable energy as tantamount to a “heating massacre”, going so far as to tell a recent press conference: that people “who cannot afford it will have to sell their houses”. Weidel maintains that sustaining the federal government’s approach would “impoverish” the people and the nation.
In rejecting climate protection controls, AfD goes further than most other European far-right parties, according to Christoph Richter of the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society (IDZ), which is based in the eastern German city of Jena: “The party doubts fundamental scientific findings about man-made climate change and therefore considers corresponding climate protection measures to be pointless”, he told DW. IDZ is currently researching how right-wing populists and extremists in Europe and the US are handling the ecological crisis.
The AfD approach to climate protection is blunt — yes to fossil fuels and nuclear energy, no to wind power. According to Richter, AfD is appealing to raw emotions in its bid to capitalize on the issue since “they target the areas in which the population holds the most reservations and fears”.
DW reports that the right-wing party views the Greens’ determination to achieve a climate-friendly and diverse Germany to be a blueprint for national demise. AfD has been attacking the Greens, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Economy Minister Robert Habeck in particular, with a barrage of insulting social media allegations.The campaign seems to be working. The latest opinion polls show AfD as the strongest party in three eastern German federal states that are due to hold regional elections in 2024. All were once part of the former East Germany.
Supporters of the Greens and the AfD seem to be at opposite ends of the policy spectrum. The Infratest Dimap surveys reveal that two-thirds of the Greens’ supporters polled feel climate protection measures are being introduced too slowly, whereas more than half of the AfD voters think they are moving too fast.

According to IDZ’s Richter, Europe’s right-wing political alliances are as one in their opposition to climate protection measures. “They are united by their interest in maintaining the current uneven distribution between the industrialised countries and other countries, especially the Global South, because the European industrialised countries benefit from this disparity”, he asserts.

Since its inception in 2013, AfD has vilified political rivals, starting with the Free Democrats (FDP) over their policies on European debt. Later, AfD went after the Christian Democrats (CDU), citing former German Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s refugee policies as a means of garnering support and election success. This proved to be especially effective in the eastern German states. Post-Merkel, AfP has singled out the Greens.

Richter notes that the recent surge in the far-right party’s fortunes is partly due to the relative weakness of the other parties. “The relevant factor of the success of the AfD campaigns is that their narrative is also being picked up by mainstream society”, a factor, he cautions,that “could ultimately damage the established parties and climate protection.”.

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