Anti-euro party officially launched in Germany
A new party calling for the dissolution of the eurozone held its founding congress in Berlin on Sunday (14 April), hoping to capitalise on disillusioned voters in the September elections.
Around 1,500 delegates gathered early Sunday morning in Hotel Intercontintental in former West Berlin - so many that the organisers had to book an extra conference room.
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All the participants believe that the euro is a doomed project that should be ended soon for the benefit of all the single currency countries.
"We take pride in being called populists. There is something like a free speech police here in Germany saying there is no alternative to the euro. We are the alternative now, Alternative for Germany," Konrad Adam, an ex-journalist and co-founder of the new party said in the opening speech, often interrupted by standing ovations.
They reject the anti-European label. But the reaction of the crowded room at a certain point was revealing. A British and US diplomat invited to the meeting were greeted with applause. An EU commission representative was booed.
Unlike other EU countries, Germany's openly anti-European parties have so far led a marginalised political existence. And no party so far has openly advocated for the dissolution of the euro, apart from the neo-Nazi NPD which staged a mini protest outside the hotel saying they are the "real" anti-euro party.
The Alternative for Germany hopes to capitalise on recent polls showing 17 percent of voters could imagine opting for a party that favours exiting the euro.
But start-up parties have a harder time in Germany than elsewhere, especially when they are single-issue.
The Pirate Party calling for free and deregulated Internet made it into regional parliaments, but internal quarrels and a lack other political ideas have eroded their support base and they are unlikely to make it into the Bundestag.
Christian Jacken, a 36-year old former Pirate party official present at the Alternative for Germany congress told this website he is interested in joining the new party because of its ideas.
"I am pro-European, but I am against a centralised state and the constant breach of EU treaties - like the no-bailout clause," he said, with the constitutional court in Germany and the EU's own top court finding that the treaties were not breached by the setting up of a eurozone bailout fund.
In order to make it into the Bundestag in the 22 September elections, Alternative for Germany needs to receive at least five percent of the total votes. Pollsters see this as unlikely, but the party could add to the troubles of the Liberals, Angela Chancellor Merkel's current coalition partners, who are stuck at four percent in the polls.
According to the latest political barometer published by ZDF broadcaster on Friday, Merkel's Christian Democrats gained two points and lead with 42 percent, while the Social Democrats lost another two points and are down to 27 percent. The Greens are stable at 14 percent, the leftist Linke at six percent.
Asked if they would still want Merkel as chancellor, 63 percent of voters said yes, while her Social-Democratic challenger Peer Steinbrueck only convinced 27 percent, down two points compared to last month.
If Germany were to exit the euro, 66 percent think it would be "rather bad" for Germany, while 26 percent say it would be a positive step. Seventeen percent said they would vote for a party favouring leaving the single currency.