Support for Germany's right-wing AfD rises to 9 percent
Support for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party rose to nine percent in a poll released Sunday, a day after thousands of its supporters joined an anti-refugee rally in Berlin.
The AfD party is the chief critic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy towards refugees fleeing war and persecution. Europe's top economy faces a record influx of up to one million asylum seekers this year.
Backing for the AfD was up one point to reach the highest level in a year, and stood at 14 percent in formerly communist eastern Germany, Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported, as the country expects to take in one million asylum-seekers this year.
"The AFD is the only party in Germany that is unrestrained in exploiting the prejudices towards foreigners of parts of the population," political scientist Ulrich von Alemann told the newspaper about the result of the Emnid institute poll.
Founded on a eurosceptic platform, the AfD has gone through a leadership split and veered further to the right, with some of its leaders voicing support for the anti-Islamic PEGIDA protest movement.
On Saturday, thousands of AfD protesters rallied through Berlin, with many waving German flags and anti-Islamic placards, under the banner "Asylum Needs Limits -- Red Card for Merkel".
Its deputy chief Alexander Gauland likened the migrant influx to the barbarians who brought down the Roman Empire and said his party "won't be showing a friendly face anymore", national news agency DPA reported.
The AfD rally sparked large counter-protests, whose activists waved "Refugees welcome" signs.
More than 1,000 police were deployed to separate the two groups who hurled abuse at each other, and officers made more than 40 arrests.
© 2015 AFP