Wednesday

28th Feb 2024

Anti-EU party continues to poach Merkel votes

  • The impoverished capital city took in 70,000 asylum seekers last year (Photo: Sascha Kohlmann)

German leader Angela Merkel’s party has suffered a further setback in local elections, while the anti-EU AfD party continued to make gains.

Exit polls from Sunday (18 September) said her centre-right CDU won just 17.5 percent of votes in Berlin, while the centre-left SPD came first on 22 points.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Both of the mainstream parties lost more than 5 percent compared to their previous result.

The outcome meant that the two factions, which are allied at the federal level, no longer have a majority in the city, prompting speculation that the SPD would join up with the far-left Die Linke (15%) and the Greens (15%) instead.

The anti-immigrant and anti-EU AfD party came fifth, but its score, of almost 14 percent, saw it enter the regional assembly for the first time.

It did better still in east Berlin, which is financially less well off than the west, and where it came third on 17 percent after Die Linke (24%) and SPD (19%), beating Merkel's CDU (13%).

The results prompted hand-wringing in Merkel’s bloc.

Frank Henkel, the CDU's top candidate for Berlin, said it was "a black day” and that "it is very alarming when fringe parties like the AfD or Die Linke between them attract a quarter of the vote."

Monika Gruetters, another leading CDU candidate, called it “a sad day for the popular parties”.

Markus Soeder, a leading figure in the CDU’s sister party, the CSU in Bavaria, blamed the outcome on Merkel’s policy of welcoming refugees, saying she must “regain citizens' support on the refugee question and finally strictly limit immigration and get a handle on the security problems”.

But the AfD’s Berlin front-man, Georg Pazderski, celebrated the fact that his side had come “from zero to double-digits”.

The party’s co-leader, Beatrix von Storch, called it “a huge success”. “We've arrived in the capital," she said.

Analysis showed that the AfD picked up the most votes from people who had not voted before (53,000) or from former CDU supporters (32,000).

The Berlin outcome meant it now has a presence in 10 out of Germany’s 16 regional assemblies ahead of next year's federal election.

It also made headlines two weeks ago by beating the CDU into third place in Merkel's home region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommen, a poor part of eastern Germany.

Opinion

Stop the hysteria over Germany's little election

Media and politicians have made a doomsday scenario out of a few thousand far-right votes in an obscure region, instead of dealing with Germany's real problem - social exclusion.

Merkel faces backlash over Berlin attack

The German chancellor says Monday's deadly crash at a Christmas market was a terrorist attack, but calls for calm. Her critics are already blaming her refugee policy.

Investigation

Far-right MEPs least disciplined in following party line

In a fractious parliamentary vote, the level of party discipline often decides the fate of legislation. Party discipline among nationalists and far-right MEPs is the weakest, something potentially significant after the June elections. Data by Novaya Gazeta Europe and EUobserver.

Latest News

  1. EU supply chain law fails, with 14 states failing to back it
  2. Joined-up EU defence procurement on the horizon?
  3. Macron on Western boots in Ukraine: What he really meant
  4. Amazon lobbyists banned from EU Parliament
  5. MEPs adopt new transparency rules for political ads
  6. EU nature restoration law approved after massive backlash
  7. Memo from Munich — EU needs to reinvent democracy support
  8. For Ukraine's sake, pass the EU due diligence directive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us