Survey: Anti-immigration AfD party becomes third strongest in Germany

Immigration-critical Alternative for Germany (AfD) has become the third-strongest party in the country following the parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition, according to market research company TNS Emnid.

AfD had the backing of 10 per cent of potential German voters, up one per cent from last week, making it the third-strongest party in the country, according to the weekly Sonntagstrend survey, which is conducted for German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) along with Bavarian sister party Christian Social Union (CSU), which generally operate as a single entity in the federal government, fell 2 percentage points to 36 per cent, while the Social Democratic Party (SPD) gained one percentage point to 25 per cent.

Experts say AfD is profiting from growing scepticism about migration in Germany, a country that saw about 1.1 million new immigrant arrivals last year, mostly people fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.

Merkel has stuck to an open immigration policy, even as other European countries have built fences to keep migrants out and set limits to the number of incoming refugees.

The AfD, which emerged in 2013 out of opposition to the euro currency, has placed much of its focus on the migration debate as it campaigns for tougher restrictions on entering the country.

The AfD has been increasing in support since its inception, despite attempts by established parties to keep the newcomers from joining the political debate.

Support among potential voters for the environmental Greens party fell one per cent to nine per cent. The far-left Die Linke and liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) remained stable at nine per cent and five per cent, respectively.

The AfD is almost entirely supported by men, according to the Emnid survey. Only two per cent of women support AfD, while 17 per cent of men do, Bild am Sonntag said.

For the Sonntagstrend survey, Emnid interviewed 1,875 people between January 14 and January 20.

Last update: Sun, 24/01/2016 - 14:46

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