'Germany needs our party as new alternative' – AfD chairwoman to RT
Official election results proved a significant success for AfD, which received enough votes to get into three state legislatures. It secured 24.2 percent in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, making it the second-largest party after the ruling Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), which won 29.8 percent.
When asked by RT whether she was happy about her party's results, AfD chairwoman Petry said: “How could I not be? I mean, we have brilliant results in all three federal state parliaments. We thought our results might be quite as good, but they are even better than we thought.”
She went on to state that AfD “needs to be here,” because Germany “needs a new alternative – and I think that's us.”
Petry promised that her party would propose changes to policies which have been “completely abandoned by the established parties.”
“...Not only migration policy, but also family policy, our energy policies and even the care of our economy in terms of how to treat middle-sized companies, has not been the focus of politics for quite a long time – and AfD has offered a number of ideas to change these policies.”
She added that AfD will be a “strong opposition party,” adding that Germany “needs national referenda for important questions.”
“We think that a referendum about the euro is more than necessary, and yes, we should also talk about migration policy, because that is something that is capable of changing the country on the whole, and people in Germany haven't even got the chance to discuss that on a broad public level.”
AfD, created in 2013 to oppose German federal policies concerning the eurozone crisis, has been gaining popularity since the refugee crisis hit the European Union in 2015. It has been a strong critic of Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy, campaigning under the slogans 'Secure the borders' and 'Stop the asylum chaos.'
The party's success is being seen as a setback for Merkel ahead of next year's general election, and a test of support for her liberal policy towards refugees. According to a survey conducted in February, 81 percent of Germans feel the refugee crisis is “out of control” under the chancellor's leadership, and the majority want more restrictive measures for asylum seekers.
Around 1.1 million asylum seekers entered Germany last year, and a forecast prepared by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research has estimated that an additional 1.5 million could be welcomed into the country this year.
Although AfD has received its fair share of criticism from those more welcoming of refugees fleeing war and persecution, Petry said that such criticism is “nothing new,” as it began when the party was created in 2013. “We didn't take it personally, we went on with our campaign,” she said.
“We are very confident and looking forward to [the general] elections to come,” Petry concluded.