Published: Mon, September 02, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Anti Merkel far-right AfD surges in east German state polls

Anti Merkel far-right AfD surges in east German state polls

The AfD achieved its best state election result ever and although it was not able to overtake the CDU, the far-right party did replace the Left Party (Die Linke) as the second strongest force in Saxony.

The results represent a blow to Merkel's ruling coalition with the SPD, and will be viewed as a victory for the AfD, which took 27.5% of votes in Saxony and 23.5% in Brandenburg - a significant increase on state elections five years ago, with the party nearly tripling its share in Saxony and doubling it in Brandenburg. However, both lost ground compared with the last state elections in 2014 - before the migrant influx that boosted AfD's support and helped it into Germany's national parliament in 2017.

Political scientist Wolfgang Schroeder of Kassel University said election gains could therefore spell a "successful failure" for the AfD.

"The good signal in both states is that a few weeks ago the far-right was ahead, and today there was a clear signal against AfD", said Lars Klingbeil, the general secretary of the center-left Social Democrats - Merkel's junior partners in Berlin.

In Brandenburg, the Social Democrats won 26.2 percent of the vote, down from 31.9 percent.

Exactly two years ago, Germany was in shock when the AfD made its entry in the Bundestag at the national elections, with no less then 90 seats.

In the ARD "Morgenmagazin" she said that the CDU in Saxony and the SPD in Brandenburg had completely ruled for 30 years - and many people in these states are annoyed by the lack of change from both parties. The Social Democrats, mired in a long-running national poll slump, are now in a long-drawn-out process of choosing new leadership.

While the AfD is now the second-biggest party in both those states, it is highly unlikely that any of the mainstream parties will enter a coalition with them, which will make the process of forming state coalition governments more complicated in some cases.

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In Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, the SPD - which has run the state since German reunification in 1990 - won 27.2% of the vote with the AfD on 22.9%, preliminary numbers showed.

Merkel's CDU and Social Democrats govern Germany together in a fractious national coalition. They may be needed to govern both states.

It was the first time since 1953 that a far-right party succeeded in winning seats in the national parliament.

The conservative CDU of Saxony is not eager to take the Greens or the Left as a third partner.

Alexander Garland, the party's leader, said: "We are satisfied in Brandenburg as well as in Saxony".

Berlin daily Tagesspiegel wrote about the AfD that "it's by no means the old white men who have helped the party cause an electoral quake in the east". Promises of equal living standards didn't always become reality, salaries in the east still lag behind those in the west and many young people have left to seek opportunities elsewhere.

The nationalist Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has called to be included in regional coalition negotiations after making gains in elections at the weekend.

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