“One day, the AfD [Alternative for Germany] will be unmasked for what it truly is – an alternative without any proper alternatives.”
On 18 September, Berliners will head to the polls to vote in their state election. Ahead of the big day, Mayor Michael Mueller expressed concerns about the increasing popularity of the anti-migrant party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), fearing that they could gain momentum in Berlin as well.
Writing on Facebook, Mayor Mueller said: “It would be seen around the world as a sign of the return of the right-wing and the Nazis in Germany. Berlin is not any old city – Berlin is the city that transformed itself from the capital of Hitler’s Nazi Germany into a beacon of freedom, tolerance, diversity and social cohesion.”
As the vote draws closer, the IPF spoke to young Berliners to find out what their views are on the right-wing party, AfD.
Liliann Fischer, 24
Sometimes I feel like I don’t recognise my own country anymore and even more my wonderful Berlin.
But then again, I feel like we shouldn’t be that surprised that people keep flogging to parties like the AfD. The traditional parties in office have long neglected certain parts of the population, specific economic interests have been pursued while support for those at the socioeconomic bottom of society has been meager at best.
This is of course extremely visible in a city like Berlin, where the focus has been on attracting new investors, on building new expensive living spaces, shopping malls or hotels to draw in more tourists and, as a consequence, social housing has been largely neglected or cut down.
So what people look for now is someone who listens to their fears and provides them with easy answers. The AfD has done a supreme job in both.
I said we shouldn’t be surprised, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on people so easily. It’s high-noon for real political dialogue. Instead of shunning people and calling them stupid or racist, we should start to really listen to them, provide them with better answers and fight for our city!
Maximilian Pohl, 32
When the refugee crisis started, Europe faced a tough decision – rejecting refugees would have caused a humanitarian disaster and accepting them would prepare the ground for the usual suspects to promote fear. From this point of view, it’s hardly surprising that a party like as AfD has risen.
It’s also a known that a lot of people are afraid of change, whether they are personally affected by it or not. I guess the problem is much deeper and not only linked to the refugees crisis. The world gets complex, the economy is unstable, people lose overview and cling to the status quo because that is what they know.
Every change seems to be unpredictable so there seems to be a strong need to avoid every unknown influence. The AfD fills that gap.
People wish for simple solutions that they can easily understand. And the AfD can deliver it. So I guess this is more or less a question of supply and demand.
In Berlin, we’re expecting about 13% of votes for AfD. This also means that 87% of the people do not agree with AfD values. One day, the AfD will be unmasked for what it truly is – an alternative without any proper alternatives.
Christoph Shulz, 27
The AfD party is a new power in the German Parliament. We all have to accept this, because the people who voted for them makes a big part of society. The empowerment of right wing political parties is also a signal to the established politicians that they have lost connection with the voters.
Social media shows us that racism is a massive part of today’s society. The AfD reflects the society’s thinking and makes it stronger than yesterday.
The only way to overcome racism is to show the people that a mixed society has more qualities to life and is our only chance to face our globalised future.