28th Feb 2020

Far right to double support in east German election

  • Germany's far-right nationalist party is set for election gains in an east German state (Photo: Reuters)

The far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party is expected to make election gains in the east German state of Thuringia, amid a recent poll showing one in four in the country held antisemitic beliefs.

The AfD is a nationalist and anti-immigrant party whose leadership has called for a "180-degree U-turn" on Germany's Nazi past.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or join as a group

Among its members is AfD firebrand Björn Höcke, who is set to double party support in a vote on Sunday (27 October) that will shape a new local parliament.

The projected AfD boost means Thuringia's current left-leaning alliance among three other parties is unlikely to hold.

The AfD surge comes after a shooting earlier this month on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur that left two people dead near a synagogue in the eastern German town of Halle.

It also comes amid a World Jewish Congress study, cited earlier this week in the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, that showed anti-Semitism was gaining strength in Germany.

At least 27 percent of the 1,300 people polled agreed with a number of antisemitic statements and stereotypes associated with Jews.

The percentage jumped to 41 percent when asked if they thought "Jews talk about the Holocaust too much."

The AfD appears to have either capitalised and or helped shape some of those sentiments, billing itself as a party that wants to help Germans struggling to get by since the fall of the Berlin wall.

Thuringia is also itself mired in a Nazi past that saw some 56,000 sent to their death at the Buchenwald concentration camp there.

"To me, Höcke is a Nazi. Others have come to the same conclusion," the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) party's Mike Mohring, who is Höcke's main rival in the east German state, said.

Mohring and Greens co-leader Robert Habeck have both received death threats, possibly from neo-Nazis.

Although starting off as a party that opposed the euro, the AfD took a hard swing to the right following the influx of asylum seekers into Germany in 2015.

It is now Germany's third largest at the federal level behind Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU and the centre-left Social Democrats.

In 2017, the AfD entered Germany's national parliament for the first time, where its national support hovered just under 13 percent. But a more recent opinion poll put its popularity at 24 percent on par with the CDU.

The AfD is expected to make similar gains in Thuringia, jumping from around 10 percent to 23 percent.

But the German region's current left-leaning coalition led by the far-left Die Linke is still expected to win the overall vote with around 30 percent.


German domestic turmoil prolongs EU leadership gap

A leadership contest is back on in German chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling CDU party - which could decide not only the centre-right's future but also Germany's European policy. Berlin has been absent from the EU and will likely remain so.

'Fragmented' Slovakia goes to polls amid corruption woes

Saturday's elections in Slovakia could herald the rise of the far-right People's Party Our Slovakia, or the emergence of a populist anti-corruption candidate, in a country wracked by mistrust since the assassination two years ago of an investigative journalist.

German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job

Hungary's PM Viktor Orban appointed controversial former commissioner Guenther Oettinger to a government council in a way that might break EU rules. Oettinger claims he did not know about the appointment.

EU leaders face major clash on rule of law budget link

One major issue dividing member states in the ongoing budget negotiations is inserting a direct link between EU subsidies and the rule of law. While the biggest battle will be over figures, the rule of law conditionality also creates tension.


Is Belgium heading for new elections?

Belgian coalition talks have hit a wall nine months after elections, posing the possibility of a new vote, which risks making the country even harder to govern.

Five new post-Brexit MEPs to watch

Five MEPs to keep an eye on from the 27 new members who are joining the European Parliament this week, following the UK's departure from the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. WHO on coronavirus in Europe: 'be prepared'
  2. Frontex hits activist pair with €24,000 legal bill
  3. Turkish jets keep violating Greek airspace
  4. 'Fragmented' Slovakia goes to polls amid corruption woes
  5. EU development policy needs a fresh start
  6. EU critical of China on Swedish dissident publisher
  7. NGOs urge EU to tackle meat consumption 'problem'
  8. Coronavirus: voices from a quarantined Italian town

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us