The anti-immigration party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) or ‘Alternative for Germany,’ has gained support following attacks that have hit the country, a poll published in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag revealed on Sunday.
The survey was conducted between July 21 and July 27 by the pollster Emnid, and showed an increase of 2% from the previous week, reaching 12% , although it is still lower than the high of 14% the party saw in May.
Within the space of a week, a series of four attacks have hit the South of Germany; twelve people were killed and dozens injured in an axe attack on a train in Wuerzburg; a mass shooting in Munich; a machete attack in Reutlingen; and, a suicide bombing near a music festival in Ansbach. Three of these attacks were carried out by refugees who had come from Afghanistan and Syria; the axe attack has been claimed by so-called Islamic State, and the suicide bomber allegedly also pledged allegiance to the group.
Germany has welcomed more than one million refugees over the past year as a response to the migrant crisis, and the German chancellor remained confident during a news conference on Thursday, repeating her ‘we can manage it’ mantra. A poll published by Emnid a day before suggested that 57% of the population thinks that her refugee policy has failed.
The attacks have created feelings of insecurity, and once more increased worries around the integration of migrants. A crowd mobilized by parties such as AfD gathered in Berlin on Sunday to protest against immigration, and called for Angela Merkel’s resignation.
However, the Munich shooting, the bloodiest of the attacks, was carried out by a German-Iranian teenager who had far-right sympathies, according to reports; most of the victims were from families with origins outside Germany. Sources close to the investigation told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the attacker was proud to share his birthday with Adolf Hitler, and considered himself a pure Aryan due to his origins. In a video recorded with a mobile phone, he can be heard shouting “I’m German!” and “I was born and raised here,” in response to a man verbally challenging him.
The perpetrators of the other attacks had all entered Germany prior to last fall, before the open-door policy had started. If the AfD has gained support, the Emnid poll showed that Angela Merkel’s parties and the Social Democrats are still leading with unchanged results at 35% and 23% respectively.
Selin Yasar is a journalist based in London who has previously worked in Senegal, the United-States and France.