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Because they are, in German and elsewhere, to the point they’re now going into full Nazi scare mode. If they didn’t want a replay of the “Nazi era,” then maybe they shouldn’t have recreated the circumstances of the Weimar Republic.

Martin Patzelt, a vocal defender of Ms. Merkel’s 2015 refugee policy and member of her conservatives, is no friend of the AfD. But he said he understands why isolating the party riles its voters — and some conservative Christian Democrat voters, too.

“We can’t stick our heads in the sand and pretend they’re not there,” Mr. Patzelt said in a recent interview before events unfolded in Thuringia. “The AfD is not going away. We need to learn how to deal with them in a mature way.”

The AfD, meanwhile, has enjoyed accusing mainstream parties of distorting democracy by ignoring the will of voters. For it, the week’s events served as a case in point.

“The AfD can’t be bypassed anymore,” Alice Weidel, leader of the AfD’s parliamentary group, said triumphantly.

They are not going away. They’re taking over and taking their country back.