A mixture of support and concern has risen over the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) becoming the main opposition party in the next parliament after the party came in third in Sunday's election, the best result for a far-right party since the Nazi era.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) secured a fourth term in Sunday's election, with exit polls showing her party well ahead of center-left challenger Martin Schulz's Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the populist, anti-immigration AfD which could emerge as the third largest party, complicating the outlook for Merkel's next coalition.
Since its founding in 2013, the euroskeptic AfD, led by economist Alice Weidel, 38, and former CDU politician Alexander Gauland, 76, has been shaking up the German political landscape. The party runs on a staunchly anti-immigrant platform and is opposed to welcoming any Muslims to Germany. It came to greater prominence after Merkel in 2015 opened the doors to more than a million refugees, many fleeing war in the Middle East.
“The big number of migrants cannot be integrated in the long run,” Weidel said in August, calling for tougher asylum laws. She also advocates shutting down the Mediterranean Sea route from Libya to Europe that many migrants use and accused the Germany navy of participating in human trafficking by assisting migrant boats in distress.
Weidel has been running on her own story as a lesbian mother of two and former Goldman Sachs banker, trying to put a softer, more tolerant face on the far-right of German politics. Weidel lived abroad in China for six years as a banker and speaks Chinese. Her partner is Sarah Bossard, a Sri Lanka-born Swiss film producer - the couple has two children together.
While addressing a rally last week in Viernheim, Weidel said, "I am homosexual. I waited on purpose to see, but nobody seems to have got up and walked out. Which is of course a surprise as the AfD is a homophobic party. I read this everyday!"
Weidel's comments come despite, after Germany legalized gay marriage in a surprise parliamentary vote in June, the AfD's website ran an obituary for German family values. Politico translated the website's message as: "In deep sorrow, we say goodbye to the German family, whose constitutional protection was buried by the 'representatives of the people' at the German parliament."
In May, a German court ruled that a comedian’s comments calling Weidel a “Nazi slut” on a television show were satirical and thus protected speech.
The Hamburg state court on rejected a complaint from Weidel contending that the comments by comedian Christian Ehring on April 27 were defamatory.
Ehring, commenting on a recent Weidel statement that political correctness belonged on the scrapheap of history, said on the satirical show Extra 3: “OK, out with political correctness, let’s all be incorrect — there the Nazi slut is right.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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