A far-right, anti-immigrant party looks set to enter the German parliament for the first time.
The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) , which was founded in 2013, looks set to become the first far-right party to enter the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house, in more than half a century.
The group, which calls for strict immigration controls, says it will call for chancellor Angela Merkel to be “severely punished”, as a poll put it at 11 per cent ahead of next week’s federal elections on 24 September.
This puts the party in third place behind Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union on (36 per cent) and the centre-left SPD (22 per cent).
If Merkel and her main challenger, Martin Schulz, agree to continue governing in a coalition, the AfD would enter parliament as the opposition.
The party, which is currently led by Frauke Petry and Jörg Meuthen, won 4.7 per cent of the votes in the 2013 federal election.
On that occasion, it narrowly missed the 5 per cent electoral threshold to sit in the Bundestag, but looks set to far exceed that on Sunday.
The poll puts AfD above other “small” German parties, such as the Left party (polling at 10 per cent), the centrist Free Democrats (9 per cent) and the Green party (8 per cent).
This surge in popularity has arrived despite a series of scandals and accusations of racism.
Last week, Alexander Gauland, a leading member of the party, said Germany should celebrate the Nazi’s miitary achievements.
“If the French are rightly proud of their emperor and the Britons of Nelson and Churchill, we have the right to be proud of the achievements of the German soldiers in two world wars,” he said.
“People no longer need to reproach us with these 12 years. They don’t relate to our identity nowadays.”
In January, Bjoern Höcke, who heads AfD in the eastern state of Thuringia, provoked fury when he condemned the Holocaust memorial in Berlin.
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“We Germans are the only people in the world who have planted a memorial of shame in the heart of their capital,” he said.
He added that Germans “need to make a 180 degree change in their politics of commemoration.”
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal he also rejected the notion that Hitler was “absolutely evil.”
“The big problem is that one presents Hitler as absolutely evil,” he said. “But of course we know that there is no black and no white in history.”
In a leaked email, AfD’s Alice Weidel, who is a lead candidate, allegedly described the current government as “pigs”.
She added that they are “nothing other than marionettes of the victorious powers of the second world war, whose task it is to keep down the German people.”
On Friday, Nigel Farage spoke at an AfD rally, after he was invited by MEP Beatrix von Storch, the deputy chief of the party.
Her grandad was Lutz von Krosigk, a Nazi who served as finance minister under Adolf Hitler.
She said: “Nigel Farage showed the impossible is possible if you believe in it and fight this fight.
“He did that for more than two decades… [he is] a role model for us.”