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The rise of Germany’s most successful far-right party since the Nazis


BERLIN (Reuters) – Following are some of the key moments in the rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), the country’s’ most successful far-right party since the Nazis were in power.

2013 – The Alternative for Germany is founded by a group of academics, journalists and businessmen as an anti-euro party during the euro zone crisis. The party wants Germany to quit the euro and reintroduce the Deutsche Mark.

2015 – The party shifts right during Europe’s migration crisis, causing some of the original founders to quit. As the only party to criticise Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy that let in hundreds of thousands of migrants, it sees support rise steadily.

A co-leader says the then-integration minister should be “disposed of” in Turkey, the country of origin of her parents.

2017 – In January, regional AfD leader Bjoern Hoecke in January attacks the Holocaust Memorial as “monument of shame”, saying history books should focus more on German victims of World War Two.

In September, the AfD becomes the first far-right party to enter the national parliament for more than half a century, winning 12% of the vote and becoming the official parliamentary opposition. Other parties still refuse to cooperate with it.

2018 – The AfD achieves 16-18% support in the polls, which remains its highest level until 2023.

2019 – The AfD comes second in a vote in the state of Thueringen, demonstrating the party’s attraction in the former Communist east of the country.

At a national level, support falls after a string of controversies related to AfD members and amid divisions over policy.

2020 – During the COVID-19 pandemic, the AfD wins back some supporters by backing anti-lockdown campaigns.

2021 – Germany’s BfV domestic spy agency service places the AfD under surveillance on suspicion of trying to undermine Germany’s democratic constitution. It becomes the first party to be monitored in this way since the Nazi era ended in 1945.

2023 – In April, the BfV classifies the youth organisation of the AfD as an extremist entity that threatens democracy.

In May, the BfV says parts of the AfD are spreading Russian propaganda. AfD leaders call for an end to sanctions on Russia.

In June, support for the party rises to 17-19%, in joint second place with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats in some polls, as it taps into worries about inflation, the cost of the Green transition and a new surge in migration.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Additional Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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