The extreme right-wing party AfD emerged with 14.1 percent of the vote in Sunday's parliamentary elections in Berlin. The sad trend that has emerged in recent elections continues, and the populist party arrives in its tenth German state parliament with a double-digit result.
The AfD's wave of success in the German capital continues unabated, and I'm wondering where this will lead. To prevent a "brown renaissance," the democratic parties, and especially the big people's parties, must use the time leading up to this coming year's elections to win back voters to their visions of democracy.
If the established parties don't succeed in reigniting enthusiasm for our free democracy and fortifying voters with convincing and plausible arguments and concepts, if they can't give the people a new hope, then I fear for the good and peaceful future of our nation.
It is an absolute nightmare to witness the ongoing success of a party which incites hate against minorities, which wants to make national-socialist terminology and proposals suitable again for casual conversation, and which cannot plausibly distance itself from neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.
The positive outcomes for the AfD feeds on every group in society. It's not just NPD-fans that are voting for the AfD now. It's not the voters who determine the right-wing extremist character of the party; rather, it's the leadership, elected officials, and staff members who are consciously moving beyond the acceptable spectrum of free democracy with their racist, anti-Semitic, chauvinistic, and ahistorical provocations that disgrace our previously functional political culture.
The democratic parties have yet to find an effective means of hindering the AfD's progress. Of central importance here is the question of security, especially against the backdrop of the so-called "refugee crisis" and of Islamist terrorism, which has claimed victims in Germany.
The citizens are expecting those at the top of the political food chain to provide comprehensible concepts of domestic and foreign security. In the eyes of too many citizens, the democratic parties' current response is too weak.
This leaves the AfD with too much free space to proliferate an agenda that isn't backed by the majority and would in fact be disastrous. It's urgently overdue that the democratic parties return to their old strength, capacity for action, and force of conviction, and put plainly in the eyes of the people into what abyss this anti-modern, anti-liberal, and anti-democratic ideology of hate and intolerance leads.
I observe with great concern as previously radical political positions are made acceptable even as they grow more brutal, especially as they show themselves on the Internet. These digital excesses reveal an ongoing radicalization of our analog reality.
Germany should remain Germany! This demand is directed equally towards those who would attack our freedom and Western system of values with Islamism and terror. And with equal conviction towards those who are trying to reestablish right-wing extremism in Germany as a legitimate political and social mode of thought.
Their rapacious conception of the world must never again become palatable to the German masses.
This post first appeared on HuffPost Germany. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.