Anti-immigration party runner-up in German regional election

The anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland – AfD) again finished runner-up in regional elections today for the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, a Land that includes Martin Luther’s home town of Wittenberg as well as larger cities such as Magdeburg and Halle.

This was the last regional contest before Germany’s federal election in September, and was seen as an important test for Armin Laschet, the new leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party CDU. (Merkel will retire in September after sixteen years as Chancellor.)

Saxony-Anhalt has been one of AfD’s strongest regions as many eastern voters reacted strongly against Merkel’s pro-asylum seeker policies. At the previous state election in 2016, AfD polled 24.3% – only just behind the CDU’s 29.8% – and there had been speculation that this year they might even take first place.

However Sunday’s election showed that (as in several other regions) AfD has failed to make further advances, and in fact has slipped back slightly. The CDU massively extended its lead polling 37.1%, with AfD slightly down to 20.8%. AfD’s regional leader Oliver Kirchner lost the Magdeburg constituency that he had won in 2016, but for reasons related to the electoral system AfD has only one seat fewer in the new Landtag (which has 97 members rather than 87 in the old Landtag).

Election posters for Saxony-Anhalt’s regional president Reiner Haseloff (CDU) and his AfD rival Oliver Kirchner.

Up until last March every opinion poll (and several regional and European elections) showed AfD making further advances, but across the country they have been in decline (to a greater or lesser extent) for about fifteen months.

The reason seems to be that for more than a year AfD (in common with many other parties, movements and individuals in the broad pro-White movement nationwide) has allowed itself to be distracted by anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination campaigns.

While supported by a noisy minority, these have proved a turn-off for the vast majority of voters, including much of AfD’s natural support. There is already an obvious electoral home for those broadly libertarian voters whose political priority is resentment of lockdown: across Germany there have been modest increases in support for the socially and economically liberal Free Democrats (FDP), who fell below the 5% threshold in 2016 but returned to the Saxony-Anhalt Landtag this week with 6.4% (up 1.5%).

The good news is that the underlying issues relating to German nationhood and the threat of mass immigration/asylum (towards which the liberal FDP have precisely the wrong policies) have not gone away: AfD is the only major party that can represent millions of Germans concerned about these issues – and it should refocus as soon as possible on these core issues.

Ever since AfD’s rise it has taken more or less all of the votes previously won by the explicitly racial nationalist party NPD, which polled just 0.3% in today’s election, down from 1.9% in 2016, whereas back in 2011 with 4.6% the NPD were close to electing members to the Saxony-Anhalt regional parliament (Landtag), and did win Landtag seats in neighbouring Saxony in 2004 and 2009.

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