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21st Sep 2019

German anti-euro party gains seats in state parliaments

  • AfD is making gains in Merkel's home territory (Photo: consilium.europa.au)

Germany's anti-euro party Alternative for Germany (AfD) got a further boost on Sunday (14 September) entering two more state parliaments following regional votes.

“We are a party that is renewing the political landscape in Germany where people turn their back to traditional parties that have lost their profile," said AfD party head Bernd Lucke.

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“One can't deny it anymore: the citizens are thirsting for political change," he added.

Preliminary results suggest the right-wing party secured around 10.6 percent of the vote in Thuringia state and 12.2 percent in Brandenburg.

The two states are traditionally seen as a power base of support for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

Founded 19 months ago, the AfD manifesto calls for a scrapping of the euro in favour of the German Deutsche Mark. The eurosceptic party has strongly criticised the eurozone bailouts and opposes the concentrated power base of the EU institutions in Brussels.

In recent months, it has also broadened its appeal among the right-wing electorate to include issues on immigration and crime although the party denies seeking to expand its support base to include the far-right fringe.

Viewed as an emerging threat to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, the AfD’s ascent in popularity has taken some analysts by surprise.

Last month, the anti-euro party won its first seats in the state parliament of Saxony. And over the summer, it secured seven seats in the European Parliament.

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel attributed AfD’s latest gains in the two east German states to low voter turnout.

Merkel, for her part, has ruled out any coalition with the AfD as she voiced concerns last week over crime and rising numbers of asylum seekers.

“We’re a country that welcomes people from other lands, but that means everybody has to abide by our laws - and those who don’t have to face the full force of the law,” she said last week at a campaign rally near the Polish border.

But the AfD was not the only party to make headway in Thuringia.

The anti-capitalist Linke party obtained around 28 percent of the vote in Thuringia, second to CDU’s 34 percent. The Social Democrats came in third with around 12.5 percent, according to projections.

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Anti-EU online networks are as fragmented and nationally-based as in the real world and they tend to operate in isolation, but the big exception is Ukip which has built up a large online network in the UK.

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European People's Party group leader Manfred Weber defended Ursula von der Leyen's decision to rename a commission portfolio, partly dealing with migration, "protecting the European way of life". He said it means rescuing people in the Mediterranean.

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Poland and Hungary have argued that rule of law is purely a domestic matter and the EU should respect legal traditions, but Dutch foreign minister warned backsliding was a worry for all.

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