Germany's far-right movement isn't expected to make significant noise in the country's elections on Sunday — in fact, the Alternative for Deutschland Party is polling slightly below its 2017 numbers — but the influence of extremist groups is "stronger than polls tellus us," Boris Pistorius, the Social-Democratic minister of Lower Saxony, told The Washington Post.
Some people think that's a result of conspiracy theories, including QAnon, that have sprouted up in the United States in recent years, gaining traction during former President Donald Trump's time in office and, especially, after he was defeated by President Biden in the 2020 election. For instance, the Post reviewed now-deleted messages in a far-right group's chatroom on the Telegram app, some of which advocated for "occupying election offices."
There's not a consensus on how widespread or meaningful the seemingly U.S.-inspired rhetoric is in the German context, however. Miro Dittrich, a researcher for the Berlin-based Center for Monitoring, Analysis, and Strategy, told the Post that far-right claims of election fraud have been in play for a few years now in Germany, but they gained prominence after Trump "starting telling the 'big lie'" last year. "Far right groups and the AfD are carefully monitoring the success Trump is having with this narrative," Dittirch said.
On the other hand, Detlef Junker, a historian focusing on the U.S. at the University of Heidelberg, said it's only a "lunatic fringe" that has been taken in by the conspiracies. Peter Wittig, who served as the German ambassador to Washington, from 2014 to 2018, agreed with both to an extent, telling the Post that Trump's rhetoric has indeed had some influence on Germany's far-right, but the actual political results are milder because Germany's multiparty parliamentary system has been able to prevent a mass movement. Read more at The Washington Post.