Led by a softly-spoken 50-year-old economics professor, Bernd Lucke, AfD adds further to the fragmentation of German politics.
All the same, by taking away more votes from the right than the left, even if his
group wins only 3-4%, Lucke
could threaten Merkel's majority in parliament.
at present relies on support from her
coalition partner, the liberal Free Democratic Party, which may not be strong enough to enter the Bundestag in the autumn.
Prof. Michael Stürmer, one of Germany's best-known historians and a member of the OMFIF advisory board, says in the daily German newspaper Die Welt today that Lucke
is a 'game-spoiler' for Merkel but not a 'game-changer'.
Lucke, a full-time economics professor at the University of Hamburg since 1998, is a clear-thinking, sober-sounding father of five devoid of celebrity appeal.
party apparatus appears populated by down-to-earth German people including a fair share of relatively young women - a combination that may add to grass-roots attraction in a country that has been suspicious of rabble-rousers since the Second World War.
academic and political background counters the impression that he
represents right-wing radicalism.
was a member of Merkel's CDU
for 33 years, initially favoured the euro but changed his
mind three years ago with the European bail-out of Greece.
calls for an end to the various rescue packages for euro members, saying the extremely large falls in real wages demanded by austerity is incompatible with democracy and is dividing Europe.
disagrees with Chancellor Merkel's view that 'if the euro fails, Europe will fail' saying that the euro could be phased out without any long-term harm to Europe.
Lucke has an undergraduate degree in economics, history and philosophy from Bonn university, carried out postgraduate studies in economics at Berkeley and has a PhD in applied microeconomics at the Free University of Berlin.
primary research interests include sovereign default, news-driven business cycles, growth in developing countries, dynamic computable general equilibrium (CGE) models and applied econometrics.
In coming months, at least on German TV programmes, he
will become a household name.