Far-right AfD in Germany's parliament 'a worrying shift': Singapore DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Alternative for Germany's (from left) Joerg Meuthen, Alexander Gauland,  Alice Weidel and  Frauke Petry prior to news conference in Berlin on Sept 25, 2017.
Alternative for Germany's (from left) Joerg Meuthen, Alexander Gauland, Alice Weidel and Frauke Petry prior to news conference in Berlin on Sept 25, 2017.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SINGAPORE - Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Monday (Sept 25) expressed concern about the ascension of the anti-Muslim Alternative for Germany (AfD) to the German parliament, even though the party won only 12.6 per cent votes in Sunday's national election.

On his Facebook page, Mr Tharman said although Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose conservative bloc emerged victorious, will lead the country, the election results were a major setback "for her, for Germany, and for the politics of moderation".

"The two anchor parties in German politics - Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats - are both weaker than they have been in six decades. The extreme right Alternative for Germany (AfD) is now the third-strongest party, riding on the unhappiness over the sudden influx of refugees," he wrote.

Dr Merkel's conservatives took 33 per cent of the vote, down 8.5 points from the 2013 election and plunging to its lowest level since 1949.

The election spelt a breakthrough for the far-right AfD, which became the third strongest party and vowed to "go after" Dr Merkel over her migrant and refugee policy.

"It is the first time since the early days of postwar Germany that a far-right party will be in the Bundestag, Germany's parliament - a worrying shift, and a challenge to the moderation and consensus-driven culture of Germany's political landscape," he noted.

Mr Tharman also reproduced a quick assessment by German newspaper Der Spiegel on the election outcome.

"That will have consequences in the form of clashes, provocations and scandalous rhetoric," Der Spiegel wrote.

"From the beginning, the AfD will do all it can to ensure that it returns to parliament four years from now - and for that to happen, German society must remain divided. That will be the focus of the AfD caucus in the Bundestag."