Germany's New Anti-Euro Party
The sentiment, of course, is hardly new. Euro-skeptics are everywhere these days, particularly in those southern European countries that have been hit hardest by the crisis that continues to plague the common currency. And even in mainstream parties, concerns about the path on which the EU currently finds itself are common. But in Germany, as elsewhere in northern Europe, the most vocal critique of the euro has tended to come from right-wing populist parties.
Alternative for Germany appears to be different, though it has yet to produce a party manifesto. Its impressive list of prominent supporters includes a large number of conservative and economically liberal university professors. The most notable name on the list is Hans-Olaf Henkel, the former president of the Federation of German Industries, but it also includes such economists as Joachim Starbatty and Wilhelm Hankel, who were part of the group that challenged Greek bailout aid at Germany's Constitutional Court.
Main initiator Bernd Lucke, a professor of macro-economics from Hamburg, was a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats for 33 years before leaving the party in 2011 as a result of euro bailout efforts. "The current, so-called rescue policies are exclusively focused on short-term interests, primarily those of the banks," Lucke told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung this week.
Alternative for Germany has not yet formally become a political party, though it reportedly plans to do so in the middle of April. Even then, however, it is not yet certain that the party will be able to collect the requisite number of signatures in time to be included on the ballot in general elections this autumn -- a minimum of 2,000 in each of Germany's 16 states or 0.1 percent of each state's population, whichever is lower. "We will make that decision based on the support we receive," Lucke told the FAZ. "But we have been overwhelmed by the public's reaction thus far."
A Political Home
Ultimately, however, the party's success will likely have more to do with the state of the common currency as the election approaches. Should the crisis flare up, so too could anti-euro sentiment. That sentiment in Germany now has a political home.