Anti-immigration party’s new gains in German capital

afd-berlin

The anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) – which has only existed since 2013 – has won seats for the first time in the regional parliament of the German capital Berlin, polling 14.2%.

This continues a remarkable run of gains for AfD, most notably earlier this month when it pushed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU into third place in the north-eastern region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Berlin was always going to be much tougher territory for AfD, so 14.2% here is a very great achievement, even though the party is in fifth place behind the socialist SPD, the CDU, Greens and far-left Die Linke (Left Party). Western Europe’s capital cities are all more left-wing than the rest of their countries, with higher ethnic minority populations: Berlin in particular has a strong left-wing element dating back to the early 20th century.

In the long term perhaps the most significant aspect is that the so-called “grand coalition” – a deal between SPD and CDU (similar to a Labour-Tory pact) – lost so many votes that it will no longer be able to govern the Berlin region.

The SPD (who remained in first place with a reduced vote of 21.6%) will probably now seek a new alliance in Berlin’s regional parliament with the Greens and the Left Party.  In the long term this is very good news for AfD, as it heralds a more honest politics that could undermine Merkel’s coalition with the SPD at national level.

For the first time, a window of opportunity is visible for AfD to achieve some share of power next year: for many conservatives within Merkel’s party will begin asking – if the SPD can form coalitions with the neo-communists in Die Linke, why shouldn’t conservatives look for a coalition with the anti-immigration AfD?

 

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