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Friedrich Merz attends the closed meeting of the CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag at Andechs Monastery, Germany.

Sven Hoppe/dpa via Reuters Connect

Germany’s Merz steps into controversy

Friedrich Merz has reminded Germany and the world that his center-right establishment party, the Christian Democratic Union, is now in a tight spot. The party leader suggested in an interview televised on Sunday that the CDU would be open to partnering with the hard-right Alternative für Deutschland party, at least at the local level.

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AfD holds "Future for Germany" rally in Erfurt.

IMAGO/Karina Hessland via Reuters Connect

Why is Germany’s far right surging?

For extremely obvious reasons, it’s always a little unsettling when the far-right is having a good moment in German politics.

That’s exactly what’s happening now as the avowedly anti-immigrant and Euroskeptic Alternative for Deutschland Party, known as AfD, is now neck-and-neck with the Social Democrats, the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The AfD, which is polling at 19% (to the SPD’s 20%), is closing in on becoming the country’s second most popular political faction. The Christian Democratic Union Party still holds the top spot at 27%.

What explains AfD’s recent upward trajectory, and what does it tell us about the state of German politics 18 months after former Chancellor Angela Merkel left the stage, ending 16 years at the helm?

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Police secures the area in Berlin after 25 suspected members and supporters of a far-right group were detained during raids across Germany.

REUTERS/Christian Mang

What We’re Watching: German coup plotters, Peru’s self-coup, Xi’s Saudi visit, TSMC’s big investment

A thwarted German Jan. 6?

Is there a single German word for "narrowly averted right-wing coup attempt"? We aren't sure, but on Wednesday German authorities arrested 25 people accused of belonging to a domestic terror organization with plans to overthrow the government and replace it with German nobility in a throwback to pre-Weimar times. Some 3,000 police conducted raids in several German states as well as in Austria and Italy, detaining people associated with the Reichsbürger, a right-wing German conspiracy group, the far-right Alternativ für Deutschland party, and at least one Russian citizen. You’ll likely remember that a member of the AfD – a euroskeptic party that has capitalized on anti-immigrant sentiment in recent years to grow its base – tweeted after the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol that "Trump is fighting the same political fight — you have to call it a culture war." Harboring beliefs that Germany is being run by a “deep state'' (sound familiar?), the group reportedly planned to launch an armed attack on the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament. This is just the most recent reflection of a far-right extremist problem in Deutschland. Last year, the German government placed the AfD under surveillance for its far-right extremist affiliations, and early this year the government found that more than 300 employees in Germany's security apparatus harbored far-right views.

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