As Bavaria goes to the polls on October 14, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) appears to be changing the political landscape in Germany.
In the last state election of September 2013, the ruling Bavarian sister party of the Christian Democrats (CSU) secured a 49,3% share of the vote. AfD’s electoral influence was merely 4,3%.
In the last three polls published last week (September 19-26), CSU polled between 34-and-36%.
Such a dramatic drop in electoral influence would be an embarrassment for the leader of the Bavarian CSU and Minister of Interior, Horst Seehofer and for the Chancellor Angela Merkel. The process of assigning responsibility alone could prolong a political dispute that has taken up much of the political agenda.
The AfD has been fiercely opposed to the Chancellor’s immigration policy, especially Germany’s opening up for Syrian and Iraqi asylum seekers during the refugee crisis. The CSU has reacted to the surge of AfD by heeding its political agenda and bolstering its security policy agenda.
For instance, the Bavarian government gave local police new powers, including the controversial authority to take “preventive measures.” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has also been holding separate consultations with the Italian Minister of interior Matteo Salvini and has been advocating a more robust deportation policy.
That has not stopped the advance of AfD. The party is currently polling between 12-and-14%, with their stronghold in Nuremberg.
The question now is whether the CSU will turn to AfD for the formation of a government. For the moment, it is unclear which of the other party would be willing to support a CSU government that is staunchly opposed by the left.
The Greens are hovering in the region of 16-to-18%, up from just over 8% in 2013. In part, this is explained by the political collapse of the Social Democrats (SPD), who have seen their electoral influence in Bavaria drop from just 20 in the 2013 election to a projected 11-to-13%.