09:58 GMT14 April 2021
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    Ahead of Germany's crucial regional elections, an offshoot of the extreme right wing Pegida movement, Legida, held a rally in Leipzig to celebrate the surge in support for the anti-immigrant party, Alternative for Germany (AfD).

    A surge that Dr Sergi Pardos-Prado, expert on the impact of migration on public attitudes and politics at Oxford University, believes will escalate among some European countries.

    "I believe the division of power and the frustration of public opinion is increasing — not decreasing — which will mean the support for radical right wing political parties will escalate," Dr Pardos-Prado told Sputnik.

    "The radical right is a consequence of mainstream political failure. We're talking about the first time in history where we are more divided than ever and main stream politicians are less powerful."

    In the March 13 elections, AfD won eight seats in eight German parliaments, winning 24 percent of the vote in the Saxony-Anhalt state in East Germany.

    The results indicate the extent to which German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy towards refugees is dividing German society.

    "Radical right politics is once again successful in capitalizing on this frustration among the fringes of public opinion", Dr Pardos-Prado told Sputnik.

    "Immigration triggers all these fears and these parties are doing a good job in selling a new narrative providing rhetoric to these defected people."

    Dr Pardos-Prado argues that the actual impact of immigration on economic performance is between negligible and positive, however the issue makes it easy for people who are already feeling vulnerable to buy into anti-immigrant narrative.

    "Mainstream politics needs to be more honest about the trade-offs of public policy and what can actually be achieved rather than promising paradises that cannot be delivered," Dr Pardos-Prado argues.

    "This is how populist radical rhetoric breaks into the system," he says. "People have lost their sense of belonging."

    Clashes between anti-immigrant protesters and anti-fascist demonstrators recently erupted in Austria after a group led by the right-wing Freedom Party (FPO) congregated in Vienna to oppose new accommodation planned for asylum seekers. 

    More than 7,000 people had signed a petition to prevent the homes in Vienna's Liesing district from being built, however only 1,100 anti-refugee protesters turned up.

    "The boat is full, it would not be possible to integrate thousands of people into Vienna. Our infrastructure is not prepared for that," Johann Gudenus, FPO vice-mayor of the city said.

    However, the anti-immigrant march in Vienna was met with a counter demonstration marching under the motto — "Refugees Welcome.
    "The FPO want to incite people against asylum seekers, modeling themselves on the German Pegida movement," Magdalena Augustin, spokesperson for Offensive gegen Recht said.    


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