Far-Right AfD Beats Merkel’s Ruling Conservatives in German State Thuringia’s Election

Far-Right AfD Beats Merkel’s Ruling Conservatives in German State Thuringia’s Election

Thuringia has become the third (former East) German state where the far right has risen to the second spot.

The far-right part Alternative for Germany (AfD) has risen to the number two spot in yet another former East German state, after Sunday’s strong showing in the general election in Thuringia.

The Left Party, a descendant of the ruling communist party of the former German Democratic Republic, i.e. East Germany, retained its top position in Thuringia with 30.6% of the votes, according to an exit poll, DW reports.

However, the CDU, Germany’s ruling conservative party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, was beaten for the first time by the far-right AfD.

The AfD more than doubled its election score in Thuringia to nearly 24%, up from 10.6% five years ago.

The CDU, on the other hand, won just 22% of the votes cast in the state of Thuringia on Sunday, down from 33%.

The SPD, the mainstream Social Democratic left party, which is presently in Merkel’s ruling coalition, suffered another major loss, sliding from 12% down to 8% of the votes.

The Greens also scored some losses, ending up with 5% of the votes. The centrist liberal Free Democratic Party also won about 5%, which is the threshold for entering Thuringia’s legislature.

Thuringia is presently the only German state with a Premier from the Left Party, Bodo Ramelow, who ruled in a coalition with SPD and the Greens with a majority of just one seat. After Sunday’s results, it seems unlikely that the same ruling coalition with remain in power.

Sunday’s vote in Thuringia saw an untypically high turnout, with 66% of the state’s 1.7 million eligible voters casting their ballots, up from 53% fives years ago.

The far-right AfD party already surged to the number two spots in two other former East German states in September 2019, winning 27.5% in Saxony-Anhalt and 23.5% in Brandenburg. For the time being, other political parties have abstained from entering into coalition agreements with it.

In Thuringia, the AfD is led by Bjoern Hoecke who is known for scandalizing statements such as describing the Holocaust memorial in Berlin as a “memorial of shame.”

After Sunday’s vote, Hoecke said the voters wanted another change comparable to the fall of the Berlin wall.

“This is a clear sign that a large part of Thuringia says: This can’t go on. We need renewal — this should be taken seriously,” he told ARD, adding that his party would have a majority in Thuringia after the next election there in five years.

According to AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland, Hoecke “is not pulling the party to the right.”

“He is the center of the party,” Gauland said of Höcke.

(Banner image: Bjoern Hoecke on Twitter)

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