Germany regional elections: Far-right surge in two states

Germany regional elections: Far-right surge in two states”

Germany's far-right party, AfD, surged in elections in Saxony and Brandenburg over the weekend but were unable to break the status quo as the setback for the ruling parties at each state were not as bad as feared.

Dietmar Bartsch, the joint leader of the Left parliamentary party said earning little more than 10% of the vote in Saxony and Brandenburg was a "disaster".

The AfD came first in Saxony among those aged 18 to 44 and only one percentage point behind the CDU in the 45-59 age bracket, according to FGW. AfD was seen winning up to 24%, up from 12.2% in 2014.

But despite the gains, the result may disappoint the AfD as the party had hoped to win most votes in Brandenburg, the BBC's Damien McGuinness reports from Berlin. The mood soon shifted to relief as the centre-left party seized first place.

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 have led Brandenburg since reunification.

That is a few points behind Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right party, which governs the state.

In both Brandenburg and Saxony, the vote was so fragmented that three-way coalitions appear the only route to a majority - a reminder to the CDU and SPD that, however awkward their national alliance, a new election would only complicate matters. Domestic instability, meanwhile, could also sideline Ms. Merkel's foreign-policy efforts in the era of Brexit, Iran nuclear negotiations and global trade tensions.

Saxony has always been a hotbed of far-right groups. 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.

In Brandenburg, the AfD were expected to finish close behind the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

In Brandenburg, the Social Democrats won 26.2 per cent of the vote, down from 31.9 per cent five years ago. Dwindling populations there have struggled to keep up with the prosperity of western and urban communities since reunification. "It's the duty of all of us to ensure the AfD becomes weaker again".

Political scientist Karl-Rudolf Korte of Duisburg University said the latest polls show a trend continuing: "Both mainstream parties, the CDU and SPD, keep shrinking".

In particular, that means the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats.

The narrow victories in the two states may for now stave off a deeper political crisis in the 17-month-old governing coalition that had been bickering over issues from environment to gender and wealth gaps and suffered heavy losses in European Union elections earlier this year.

Ms. Merkel, a Christian Democrat, resigned past year as party leader, but intends to remain as Chancellor until the next general election.

Last night AfD leaders boasted of having "punished" Mrs Merkel.

With 4.1 percent, the Free Democrats (FDP) did not make it into parliament. But he said it wasn't realistic to expect other parties to stop freezing it out of government "in the foreseeable future" - for the next two or three parliamentary terms.

Describing the Social Democrats as in a period of "national decline", Prof. Non-left majorities exist ONLY with the AfD, Beyond that, there are only faint, colourful alliances. "If so, look forward to the end of the Merkel government and early elections".

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