Saturday

21st Sep 2019

Far-right AfD scores big in east German elections

  • In the regional state elections in Saxony and Brandenburg both coalitions lose their majority, as AfD wins respectively 27.8 and 23.5 percent of the votes (Photo: strassenstriche.net)

The conservative CDU and socialist SPD reacted with relief when the results of the regional elections in Saxony and Brandenburg came in on Sunday night (1 September).

In both states in former East Germany the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) did not succeed in becoming the biggest party, contrary to earlier opinion polls.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

In Brandenburg, the SPD remained the biggest party with 26 percent of the vote. In Saxony, the CDU is still the leading party with 32.5 percent.

However, in both states the AfD surged dramatically and became the second-biggest party.

In Brandenburg, AfD gained 11.3 percent ending up with 23.5 percent of the votes. In Saxony, the party increased its votes by 18.1 percent, getting a result of 27.8 percent.

Far-right is there to stay

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.

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

The fact that AfD won almost 22 percent of the votes in eastern Germany led to consternation.

Back then the party gained 27 percent in Saxony and 20 percent in Brandenburg.

On Sunday, the AfD not only confirmed its place in both states, it increased its score.

Compared to the regional state elections of five years ago, the result is even more impressive. Back then, AfD reached less then 10 percent in Saxony and 12 in Brandenburg.

Eastern discontent

The campaign of the AfD mainly focussed on the remaining frustrations in eastern Germany after the reunification of the country in 1990.

Today, thirty years later, the salaries and pensions in the east are still significantly lower than in western Germany.

In total some three million people left the east for the west, leaving many villages and cities underpopulated. As more women left the area than men, it is hard for young men to find a female partner.

Exit polls showed yesterday that AfD was by far the largest party in demographically-shrinking areas, and with the young and male electorate.

A poll from the German broadcaster ARD showed that 66 percent of the people of Saxony and no less than 78 percent of the AfD voters there described themselves as "second-class citizens".

Saxony is the most populated state of former East Germany, being home to cities like Chemnitz, Dresden and Leipzig.

Challenges ahead

In both states the ruling coalition lost its majority. In Brandenburg, the SPD ruled with the post-communist Left (Linke) during the last ten years.

As both parties lost heavily, the SPD has to look for a new coalition with three parties. Possibly the Greens will be that third party, having gained 10.7 percent of the votes.

In Saxony, the formation of the coalition might prove to be more difficult. The CDU ruled with the support of the SPD, but this combination lost its majority.

The conservative CDU of Saxony is not eager to take the Greens or the Left as a third partner. However, the party has announced that it will not cooperate with AfD.

Meanwhile, the AfD said it might push for a rerun of the elections in Saxony as they have not enough elected people to fill the seats.

The AfD won 38 seats but the state constitutional court found formal mistakes in the list and reduced the number of AfD candidates from 61 to 30.

"We said before the election that we would in any case take the matter to court, as far as the cutting of the list is concerned," Jörg Urban, the AfD's leader in Saxony, told the regional public broadcaster MDR.

German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Germany's domestic spy agency, the BfV, is to start monitoring the far-right AfD party in a move endorsed by the government, but decried as a witch-hunt by the party's leaders.

Opinion

Why Germany must spend to beat the eurosceptics

Germany has comfortable margins to abandon - at least temporarily - its fiscal orthodoxy and support its society and Europe in a time of global economic uncertainty and slower growth.

Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs

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.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'
  2. UK secrecy on Brexit holds back wider EU talks
  3. Feminist mass protest in Spain after 19 murders this summer
  4. Global climate strike starts ahead of UN summit
  5. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  6. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  7. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  8. Germany takes carbon border tax on board

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Europe goes to New York This WEEK
  2. Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations
  3. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  4. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  5. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  6. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  7. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  8. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us