In two years, Lucke has taken the AfD into the big time — not with rhetoric or personal charisma, but with an academic approach that reassures his older, conservative audiences.
The AfD entered the European Parliament last May with 7.1 percent, then shocked Germany by winning about 10 percent in three regional elections in the east, stealing voters from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).
The party is now at a crossroads ahead of an election in the city-state of Hamburg next month. If the AfD enters the regional assembly, it would mark its first major success in western Germany, establishing the party as a national force and strengthening Lucke.
Should the AfD fail in Hamburg, the influence of more right-leaning members behind the party’s victories in the east and who are flirting with anti-Islam protesters in Dresden, will grow.
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