For the German electorate, the reelection of Angela Merkel is a foregone conclusion. Her election venues are like rock concerts. First, comes the exuberant rock music, then the supporters cheer while the Chancellor walks onto a makeshift stage. The experienced German politician frequently smiles, her eyes sweeping on to her supporters and on the few carefully selected refugees who are placed in the front row seats. German security personnel makes sure that hecklers are kept away. Most of the people who are frequently removed from her venues belong to the Alternative fuer Deutschland or AfD. The latter is an openly right-wing party.
Merkel knows that she will win this election. For many Germans, the 12-year reigning chancellor and consequent election battle-scarred politician represents stability and strength in the middle of increasingly dangerous global politics. The truth is that the Germans do not have much choice. The centrist German parties have little to differentiate between them. Merkel knows this. It also helps her that her main political rival, Martin Schulz of the social democrats are growing electorally weaker every day.
This does not mean Merkel will automatically get the vote. Many Germans regard her as soft, while many admire her refugee policies. However, the proverbial elephant in the electoral room is the AfD. The right-wing party, on paper, has negligible support as of now. Its offices are regularly smashed, with anti-Nazi signs daubed on them. Many Germans are deeply uncomfortable with the right wing German party's anti-immigrant and anti-Islam stance. The AfD, however, has public support in the areas that were once East Germany.
Rise of the AfD
Many Germans living in the Eastern part of the country are quite candid about why they have shifted their political allegiance from the centrist parties to the far right. One of them is Rolf Kronhagel, a teacher by profession. He said that what attracted him to AfD is the right-wing party's opposition to gay marriage. He also prefers their anti-immigrant stance. Kronhagel says that he teaches German to newly arrived refugees and have noticed that a significant proportion of them do not want to assimilate into the German society and culture. He says that the AfD is actually sitting in government. According to Germans like him, the right-wing party is already a decisive party as it puts the other centrist German parties uncomfortable. These voters are tired of what they feel are weak, indecisive politicians.