The New StatesmanThe New Statesman

The AfD’s nuclear option

By Wolfgang Münchau

05 Sep 2023 · 3 min read

informed Summary

  1. Germany's centrist parties have isolated the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, refusing to cooperate with it at any level. However, this strategy may be unsustainable as it often results in four-party coalitions and could potentially strengthen the AfD, Wolfgang Münchau suggests.

Germany's centrist parties have drawn a political firewall around the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). They do not cooperate with the far right at any level: federal, state, regional or local. We can see why they are doing this, but we also see that it is arithmetically and politically unsustainable. If you exclude a party that polls at 20 per cent, you invariably end up with four-party coalitions. Everyone else, bar one, is always in government. The more the centrist parties huddle together, the stronger the AfD will get.  

A powerful political theme has emerged in Germany with the potential to tie the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU), Free Democratic Party (FDP) and AfD together. All three want to go back to nuclear power. That joint commitment was triggered by a throwaway comment from Olaf Scholz last weekend, who in a radio interview called nuclear energy a dead horse. This is the one big policy area in which the ruling coalition is most definitely out of step with the mood of the country. The Germany that many grew up in is not the same as today's energy-constrained Germany. Most people fear nuclear energy a lot less than the permanent loss of industrial competitiveness. It is unsurprising that some political parties are trying to capture the shifting mood.

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