Anti-euro party gains political ground in eastern Germany

Germany's fledgling Euro-sceptic "AfD" party has shaken the country's political landscape by making big gains in two state elections, a fortnight after securing seats in a state legislature for the first time.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 15, 2014, 14:24 PM IST

Berlin: Germany's fledgling Euro-sceptic "AfD" party has shaken the country's political landscape by making big gains in two state elections, a fortnight after securing seats in a state legislature for the first time.

The "Alternative for Germany" (AfD) party polled 12.2 per cent and 10.6 per cent of the votes respectively in yesterday's elections in the eastern German states of Thuringia and Brandenburg.
The nascent party was found early last year by a group of opponents of the single currency and eurozone bailouts.

Two weeks ago, the AfD gained its first parliamentary representation by winning over 10 per cent of the votes in the state election in Saxony.

"We are now a political force to reckon with," AfD chairman Bernd Lucke told his jubilant supporters yesterday night in Brandenburg's state capital Potsdam.

He said the AfD has established itself as a political party, which will renew the political landscape.

The AfD was benefited by the votes of those people disillusioned with the policies of the main parties.
The AfD had narrowly missed the minimum threshold of five per cent of the votes needed to enter the Bundestag, the lower house of German parliament in the national election a year ago.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) consolidated its position as the largest political force in Thuringia by polling 33.5 per cent of the votes, according to provisional official results published last night.

However, it looked uncertain whether the CDU state premier Christine Lieberknecht can remain in power by continuing her present coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD).

The SPD, which finished third in yesterday's election by securing 12.4 per cent of the votes, has not made up its mind whether to continue its partnership with the CDU or to switch allegiance to the Left party, which polled 28.2 per cent of the votes.

The Left party's leading candidate Bodo Ramelow has the possibility to become Germany's first Left state premier by joining an alliance with the SPD and the ecological Green party, which won 5.7 per cent of the votes.

In Brandenburg, Social Democrat state premier Dietmar Woidke can remain in power by continuing the present coalition with the Left party or by forming a new coalition with CDU.

The SPD retained its position as the largest political force in the state by winning 31.9 per cent of the votes while the Left party gained 18.7 per cent and the CDU polled 23 per cent of the votes.
Leaders of the mainstream parties expressed their concern over the AfD's sensational victory in three state elections.

SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel said the main parties should jointly confront the anti-European policies of the AfD, which could destroy thousands of jobs in the EU.