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Alarm as far-right party comes third in German election

Leaders express concern at the rise of 'disgraceful, reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past'

    Frauke Petry (C), co-leader of Germany's nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, and AfD top candidate Alice Weidel (R) arrive for a press conference of the AfD in Berlin
    Frauke Petry (C), co-leader of Germany's nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, and AfD top candidate Alice Weidel (R) arrive for a press conference of the AfD in Berlin (Photo: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images)

    Jewish leaders in Germany and beyond have reacted with alarm to the success of the far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) party in the German elections.

    Early projections gave the AfD 13 per cent of the vote, enabling it to enter the Bundestag for the first time. It will be the third largest party after Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and the centre-left Social Democrats.

    “A party that tolerates right-wing extremist thinking in its ranks and incites hatred against minorities ...will now be represented in parliament and nearly all state legislatures,” observed Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

    “I expect our democratic forces to expose the true nature of the AfD and its empty, populist promises.”

    In a statement, the European Jewish Congress urged centrist parties to ensure the AfD "has no representation in the coming governing coalition. Some of the positions it has espoused during the election campaign display alarming levels of intolerance not seen in Germany for many decades and which are, of course, of great concerns to German and European Jews."

    World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder said it was "abhorrent that a disgraceful, reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past and should be outlawed, now has the ability within the German parliament to promote its vile platform".

    Demonstrations against the AfD took place in major German cities.

    The AfD argues that immigration threatens Germany’s culture but denies it is racist or antisemitic.

    It was congratulated on its electoral succcess by French National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who said it was a "symbol of the revival of the European peoples".

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