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 as Germans head to the polls to vote in Sunday's national election.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, is poised to win a fourth term in Sunday's election, with polls showing her leading 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.