Germany’s anti-euro Alternative for Germany party is broadening its policy platform beyond the fallout from the debt crisis as it seeks to surmount the 5 percent support level it needs to enter parliament this fall.
While continuing to focus its campaign for the Sept. 22 elections on the crisis and its ramifications for voters in Europe’s biggest economy, the AfD, as the party is known in German, today unveiled energy, health and defense policies.
The AfD has attracted more than 15,000 members since it was founded in April amid concerns that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s euro-rescue policies were placing too great a burden on German taxpayers. Subsequent calm in European debt markets has shifted the election debate away from the crisis and placed pressure on the AfD to widen its offerings in other areas.
“We believe that we’re very close to the 5 percent hurdle,” AfD chairman Bernd Lucke said at a press conference in Berlin. Even so, voter awareness that the party exists is “not yet satisfactory,” he said.
Most polling companies say between 1 percent and 3 percent of voters back the AfD. Allensbach, the company that most accurately predicted the 2009 election outcome, had the party edging up 0.5 percentage point to 3.5 percent support in a July 12 survey.
“The concerns of citizens can clearly be felt,” said Lucke, an economics professor at Hamburg University. “This theme will be our main topic on the streets and town squares” as the party gears up for election day, he said.
Italian and Spanish government bonds were little changed today, a sign that investors may be willing to tolerate political unrest in Europe’s most-indebted nations. Portuguese 10-year bonds trimmed a three-day decline that was sparked partly by concern the country’s government could collapse amid disagreement over austerity.
Southern European countries can’t cope with the competitive pressure exerted by the euro and are suffering because they can’t devalue the 17-nation single currency, Lucke said May 16 in a Bloomberg Television interview. Countries such as Spain, Greece and Cyprus should quit the common currency to return to economic health, he said.
While short of a comprehensive program, the party has created committees to fill gaps in its platform outside its main area of competence, Lucke said today he said. The AfD will compete in the federal election in all of Germany’s 16 states, he said.
Germany’s growing reliance on renewable energy under Merkel has led to surging costs for consumers and risks scaring away power-hungry industries, the AfD says in a paper drawn up by its energy-policy committee. Renewable energy subsidies should come from overall tax revenue instead of consumers’ electricity bills, it says.
The party is also drawing up plans to overhaul Germany’s dual health-insurance system, reorganize military procurement and review Germany’s foreign military operations outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization area, Lucke said.
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