"It was rather about people having more control, about wanting to know outcomes, to feel like they actually have a state that is in control and can manage the situation," she said.
TOWARD THE FUTURE
The populists are unapologetically optimistic about their chances in the European Parliament elections next year, with a high-ranking AfD member forecasting "a landslide for the new conservative, Eurosceptic parties."
The Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), a populist Eurosceptic political group to which AfD belongs, holds 43 seats in the currently 751-seat European Parliament.
The EFDD, which includes Italy's Five Star Movement, will emerge much stronger, said Petr Bystron, a senior AfD lawmaker with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Bundestag.
Experts have sounded the alarm for such a scenario. Petri Koikkalainen, an associate professor of political science at the University of Lapland in Finland, said a further rise of populist parties in the EU elections may deadlock decision-making.
"The EU could end up in a situation that resembles current U.S. domestic politics. A remarkable increase in the seats for populist, nationalistic parties in the May 2019 election could bring bloc politics that would make wide-based cooperation difficult," he said.
"European idealism and positive steps have been largely attributed to the cooperation of Christian democratic and social democratic parties," Koikkalainen said.
The Eurosceptics are currently split into three factions in the European Parliament: the EFDD, the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).
"We hope to combine as many of these parties as possible into a strong, conservative, Eurosceptic group that will be able to exert real power in Brussels," Bystron said.
Koikkalainen, who does not believe that the populist parties could create enough cohesion among them, said that beyond their joint opposition to immigration, there are wide differences among the populist groupings.
"Populists, whether right- or left-leaning, are likely to try to affect EU decision-making internally, toward giving more space to member states," he said.