– ‘Vacuum cleaner of unsatisfied’ –
A handful armed with AfD posters turned up at Merkel’s rally Saturday at her constituency’s Baltic Sea resort of Binz, whistling during her speech, but they were too far away to make themselves heard.
Helmut Michel, who was holding an anti-Merkel poster, complained that the chancellor “gives the impression that she has everything in control but that is not true.”
Citing the refugee crisis, Michel said it was too difficult to integrate so many newcomers as “life is already hard in Germany”.
“There is exploitation of working people, there is education misery, problems with our own youths,” said Michel, who refused to say who he is voting for but insisting that none of the established parties represent policies that he believes in.
AfD, whose leading politicians have come under fire for making racist comments, is expected to win seats in the German parliament for the first time.
With opinion polls putting its support at between eight and 12 percent, the group could become the country’s third-largest party.
Nico Siegel, who heads the Infratest Dimap polling institute, described the AfD as a “vacuum cleaner of the unsatisfied”.
– ‘Stand up against hate’ –
With mainstream parties all shunning the AfD, its supporters have been particularly vocal.
“The angry voters feel disempowered as they know that even if they voted for the other smaller parties, they won’t get rid of Merkel,” said Lochocki, of the German Marshall Fund.
“This is basically why people flock to the AfD, and why they take to the streets, because this is the only way to express their discontent.”
Merkel has vowed to press on with her rallies, saying that “there is always a majority of people who are listening and who want to be democratically informed.”
“It is important for me to visit not only comfortable places,” she added.
“Every event is also an encouragement to those who stand up against hate.”
Helmut Wessling, a retiree from Sassnitz, sided with Merkel and said the CDU will get his vote.
“Those who throw tomatoes act like they are in the kindergarden,” he said, complaining that “they bring no solutions”.