BY GABBY RAYMOND ’20
German citizens will cast their vote for who they want in their Parliament, or the Bundestag, on Sep. 24. Unlike American elections, where the public directly casts their vote for president, German chancellors are decided by the Bundestag.
While recent national polls have shown Angela Merkel will most likely stay chancellor for a fourth term, the seats in the Bundestag are still very important, because the representatives have a lot of say in making federal policy, as reported by BBC.
Currently there are five parties represented in the Bundestag, including Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its sister-party the Christian Social Union, the center-left Social Democrats, the Left Party and the Greens.
However, the right-wing nationalist party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) — which started in 2013 as an anti-Euro, anti-refugee protest group — has been gaining traction in the regional arena. According to BBC, it is projected that the extremist group will have enough support to gain the 5 percent of votes that is needed to enter the Bundestag.
In the recent state elections the AfD gained presence in 13 of Germany’s 16 state parliaments. While the group will most likely not upset who is voted in for chancellor, they could potentially bring nationalist representation into the federal body that holds much of Germany’s policy making power.
According to BBC, many left- and center-leaning German citizens are upset with the power the AfD could soon hold. If they gain even 11 percent of the vote, which is what they are projected to attain, they will still win over 60 seats in the Bundestag.
Some of these concerned citizens include a group of Berlin-based friends who formed the mock political party, Travesty for Germany. The ‘party,’ lead by popular Berlin drag queen Jacky-O Weinhaus, has been campaigning against the AfD by putting up fake campaign posters all over the city.
In a recent interview with the BBC, Weinhaus stated, “We want to raise the attention of other people to interact with different parties, and to interact with people with different minds.”
Much of the AfD’s platform is inherently opposed to interacting with people of different backgrounds. As a political party, the AfD gained many supporters after the 2015 migrant crisis when Merkel suspended European asylum laws, allowing thousands of refugees to enter the Germany.
The AfD capitalized on the nationalist backlash to get support for anti-immigration and have continued to endorse nationalist values including anti-Euro and anti-Muslim sentiments.
The Travesty for Germany party aims to get more citizens out to vote, hoping that if more voters turn up at the polls they can lessen the chance of the AfD reaching 5 percent of the vote.
“We stand for the rights of trans people, gay people and inter people. We stand for the equality of all human beings,” Weinhaus told BBC.
Some of their campaign posters include slogans like, “Are you afraid of trans? We will still your fear, no worries.” All of their posters also include the hashtag NoAfD.
While LGBT rights are not at the forefront of issues the AfD is tackling, their right-wing conservative stance is worrying to all people who do not fit into the ideal of what the party believes it means to be ‘German.’