German Policy Watch
March 4, 2013
Alternative für Deutschland: A German Eurosceptic movement?
What is the Alternative für Deutschland (AD)?
It is a eurosceptic movement that could soon turn into a new political party in Germany. The movement Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) is centered around the German economist Bernd Lucke, a professor of macroeconomics in Hamburg. Other spokespersons are former FAZ journalist Konrad Adam and a former state secretary in Hesse, Alexander Gauland. Another prominent supporter is the former president of the Federation of German Industry (BDI) Hans-Olaf Henkel – a prominent and colourful eurosceptic who wrote a book about establishing a North-EMU and a South-EMU. Other supporters are well-known eurosceptic economists such as Stefan Homburg (Hanover), Charles Blankart (Berlin), Wilhelm Hankel and Karl Schachtschneider (both multiple plaintiffs at the German Constitutional Court of Justice in various euro-proceedings).
What are the movement’s goals?
Three goals are mentioned on the movement’s website
(1) In accordance with the Maastricht Treaty: no guarantees for the debt of other countries.
(2) It should be politically and legally possible for countries to leave EMU and to re-emerge in alternative monetary unions or establish parallel currencies.
(3) Transfer of sovereignty should be legitimized by a prior plebiscite.
Other goals, such as tax policy, family policy, security policy and broad economic policy have not yet been specified.
Will party foundation be successful?
Most likely yes. In order to found a party in Germany, you need seven people to register as an association, a name that differs from that of other parties, a foundation assembly that decides on the manifesto and the party statutes and democratically elects the party board according to the statutes. The minutes, the statutes, the manifesto, a list of the persons in responsible positions (down to state level) has to be forwarded to the federal election office that assesses whether the manifesto and party structure comply with minimum democratic standards.
However, that does not mean that the party will be authorised to participate in the federal elections in September.
Will the party be authorised for the federal elections on 22 September?
Probably yes. While the logistics seem to be doable, the timeframe is tight and will only suffice if there are no internal conflicts on substantive issues.
Two dates are of critical importance.
Why were eurosceptic movements in Germany unsuccessful in the past?
This is not the first attempt to found a eurosceptic movement in Germany. At least one eurosceptic party was founded back in the late 1990s, got some traction but was dissolved after a few years. However, movements in this direction faced the following challenges.
(1) Fragmentation: fragmentation of their electorate kept mobilization momentum low: German conservatives as their main target group are sticky in their electoral behavior.
(2) No money: Lacking financial resources gave an unprofessional appearance.
(3) Narrow content: Monothematic manifestos often lacked coherent positioning in other policy areas.
(4) No appeal: Lack of charismatic leaders kept public attention low. That has often led to infiltration by the far right and, in the end, to negative media coverage.
Does the AD have higher chances of success than previous eurosceptic movements?
Looking at the four challenges that led to the failure of previous eurosceptic movements in Germany, the AD’s chances of electoral success are mixed.
Apart from these endogenous aspects the electoral performance of a eurosceptic party will also depend on a number of other factors that are either difficult to predict or cannot yet be fully assessed as the position of the AD is not yet entirely clear.
How will they fare at the federal elections on 22 September?
This cannot be fully assessed yet. Even if they were more successful than previous eurosceptic party movements in attracting public attention this does not mean that the party will clear the critical 5 percent threshold at federal elections. Provided that the movement manages to become a registered party by September, its chances of success in the federal elections mainly depend on (1) the ability to overcome internal fragmentation, (2) its ability to draw up a convincing election manifesto that is not too monothematic, (3) the will of prominent personalities and economically powerful agents to support it.
Given the fact that no party manifesto has been drawn up yet, it cannot yet be assessed which group of voters the party is targeting. It is also too early to assess whether the established parties would react to the movement in their respective election campaign manifestos.
Nicolaus Heinen +49 69 910 31713, firstname.lastname@example.org
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