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Leading business associations warn of AfD election successes

Important state elections are due in 2024. The AfD is leading in the polls. Business associations have clear words.

AfD leader Alice Weidel celebrates her success in the state elections in Hesse with
AfD leader Alice Weidel celebrates her success in the state elections in Hesse with party colleagues.

Entrepreneur - Leading business associations warn of AfD election successes

Leading German business associations have warned of AfD election successes in the coming year. "Anyone considering voting for the AfD must know: This party causes great damage," said the President of the Federation of German Industries, Siegfried Russwurm, to the German Press Agency. Employers' President Rainer Dulger told dpa: "The increasing popularity of the AfD is very, very worrying for me as an entrepreneur and as an employer president."

The European elections will take place in June. In September, the state parliaments in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg will be re-elected. In all three states, the AfD has recently been ahead in the polls. The AfD state association in Saxony was recently classified by the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution as a confirmed right-wing extremist organization, while the AfD in Thuringia has been classified as such for some time.

With a view to the elections in the three eastern German states,Russwurm said: "I am very worried. Much of what the federal government says we have delivered is met with great skepticism and a lack of acceptance in large parts of the population. In this situation, the AfD is fishing for votes with supposedly simple solutions that are not solutions at all. I almost exclusively meet entrepreneurs who show a clear edge: The AfD's program is damaging our country. It harms the economy and social cohesion."

Dulger: Germany benefits from openness to the world

According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, parts of the AfD are an extreme right-wing party, said Dulger. "It derives many of its positions from nationalism. I can't do anything with that. We didn't build our prosperity in Germany with nationalism, we were and are a cosmopolitan and liberal industrial and trading nation. We have cooperated and traded well with all our foreign friends and partners. This is the origin of our prosperity, and I would like to further consolidate this prosperity. Germany benefits from its openness to the world like few other countries. I have not yet seen an answer from the AfD to the question of how we want to fill the skills gap that the ageing of society is bringing us."

The anti-European attitude also bothers him, said the President of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations. "We must not forget that the model of the European Union, a united Europe, is not only the reason and the cause of a lasting peace in Europe that has lasted for more than 70 years, but also the guarantor of the prosperity that we all enjoy today. We can work across national borders, shop without customs duties in a single currency, trade, build livelihoods - and all this in peace and freedom. That is the successful European model that we want. And none of this is on the AfD's agenda - the destructive anti-attitude simply worries me greatly."

Many AfD voters are disappointed with the major parties, Dulger continued. "They say: enough is enough. Politicians should pay more attention to this. This includes the federal government now delivering and not getting caught up in debates with itself again. Many parties don't want to touch certain topics either. That is wrong. This creates a vacuum that the AfD is happy to fill."

Looking ahead to the European elections

Russwurm called for more commitment to Europe. The European elections are only six months away. "I would like to see the democratic parties launch a campaign long ago to convince as many voters as possible of how meaningful and important Europe is for us. You hear this from industry everywhere. We want more Europe and a stronger Europe. Some things that we have not yet tackled in Europe need to be tackled now, such as a capital markets union, deeper energy cooperation and a digital single market with equal implementation across the EU."

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