The right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD), which comfortably established itself as the second most vote-getter at the federal level, with 20%, got 15% in Bavaria and 16% in Hesse. These are unprecedented percentages for a party that wants, among other things, to get Germany out of the euro. But also, in Bavaria, another populist party emerged: Free voters (Free voters), with another 15%. This upset the party that won the polls, the Christian Social Union (CSU), the CDU’s sister party, led by Markus Söder, which remained in first place with 36% but will be forced into a coalition it doesn’t want. . . Söder is for many German right-wing voters the candidate they want for the chancellorship, instead of the current CDU president, Friedrich Merz, and a failure in Bavaria could influence the political fate of Berlin.
So far, Söder has lost the campaign initiative, which was taken by the leader of the Free Voters, Hubert Aiwanger, who mastered the art of performing. When Aiwanger entered the Oktoberfest beer tent, cheers and celebratory mugs circulated. “Hubert, Hubert!” the screams are superimposed on the band’s music. Aiwanger, wearing a white shirt and rolling up his sleeves, criticized the heating law, the traffic light government in general, and praised the farmers, artisans and all the hardworking worked. During the campaign, he was under pressure because of an essay at school, where, 35 years ago, he wrote anti-Semitic phrases. But it doesn’t seem to bother the Bavarians too much. “You can’t be punished politically for things from your childhood,” said a woman who entered a Drindl, “and it’s even more surprising that it came to light before the election.” Aiwanger attributed this to a campaign that sought to destroy him personally and politically, and rode a wave of solidarity. Polls show that the leaflet issue did not harm Free Voters.
Free Voters was founded in February 2010, as an extension of the Federal Association of Free Voters, which unites local voters. It describes its orientation as “liberal-conservative” and “conservative in value”, with a nationalist approach, calling for the expansion of local self-government. They have been in the regional parliament in Bavaria since 2008 and in Rhineland-Palatinate since 2021. The Free Voters maintain that “euro policy has failed” and call for the deepening of the EU, a fundamental democratization of interest. of citizens. : ” Not a Europe of bureaucrats, but a Europe of citizens.
They also called for the promotion of economic cycles in the region and a sustainable budget policy. They do not want a “credit union” and believe that bank management should be strengthened. They promote the strengthening of rural areas through so-called infrastructure measures and more direct democracy: in their opinion, the president and chancellor should be directly elected. They rejected the rigid electoral lists and wanted the framework authority of the education system to be transferred to the Bundeslanders, returning to the federal level. Regarding refugees, they support an immigration policy based on the Canadian model.
His ideology attracted many right-wing Bavarians who thought on a regional scale. It will also help the desire to punish the parties of the ‘traffic light coalition’, which the voters blame for inflation, recession, energy crisis, doubting support for Ukraine and the state of collapse in the reception of refugees. As they ascended, the free voters weakened the CSU. “Aiwanger knows how to present himself as a decorative figure as regional vice president,” explained political scientist Alexander Straßner, from the University of Regensburg, “he does not appear dressed and not be seen as an anti-system figure.” «For many sectors of the population, not at all radical, the political style of a government and a media spectrum that considers itself to have been made only by urban progressivism and its moral superiority is unbearable.
He did not limit himself to the protection of farmers, who “take care of our food”, he also defended the consumption of meat, called for tax relief, advocated the total abolition of inheritance tax and became the harshest critic of the heating of the new law: « The Neanderthals already knew that the cave would be hot if they heated it with firewood. But Berlin’s traffic lights don’t understand this yet. He is the protector of the “little ones” and the image works because he is one of them: he lives on a farm in Rahstorf, in the Landshut district of Lower Bavaria. He helped in the stable as a child, later studied agricultural science and made a living as a pig farmer. Aiwanger has been the president of Rural Youth for seven years and wants to emphasize that he has “planted more trees than all the Greens put together” and that rural citizens know better what what they need more than the humble elites in the big cities. His rhetoric was simple, but effective: the big men in the city against the little men in the countryside.