Far-right AfD makes gains in regional German election
Updated 23:06, 28-Oct-2019
Bruce Harrison

For the second time in a row, the far-left Die Linke party has won the Thuringia state election, according to exit polls.

But its minor gains are being overshadowed by a bigger story - the apparent gains of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

By tapping voter anger over refugees and concerns the east of the country has been left behind by the west, the AfD took a bold step forward on Sunday.

"Next time we'll get the absolute majority," said Bjoern Hoecke, the party's leader in Thuringia. "The sun is rising over the east and soon, we will let the sun shine above all of Germany."

Exit polls show the AfD won around 24 percent of the vote, enough to edge out Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) at roughly 22 percent.

Even though Die Linke is forecast to have won the election with about 30 percent, it's still a long way from holding a majority.

Thuringia's Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (Credit: AP)

Thuringia's Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (Credit: AP)

Bodo Ramelow, the party's premier, told German broadcaster ARD his party once again has a mandate to govern, but Die Linke will have to work with multiple parties that won at least five percent to form a coalition and ultimately, the next government.

The AfD won't be invited. It has no allies in parliament and no chance of forming the government. Party members are unlikely to see this as a loss, and Hoecke has said he doesn't mind waiting.

It has succeeded in disrupting established parties, a key task if it wants to eventually run state governments and topple the governing coalition in Berlin.

The AfD won just over 10 percent in the 2015 election. Today, it more than doubled that outcome and continued its winning trend across the nation.

Earlier this fall, the AfD nearly won state elections in both Brandenburg and Saxony.

"It's absolutely necessary to be against them," said voter Franziska Albrecht outside a polling station in the capital Erfurt. "And it's incredibly important that we support parties that act democratically and don't come out as racist."

But the AfD is already the third largest party in the federal parliament. And Sunday's outcome is just another blow to Merkel's fragile coalition in Berlin.

Source(s): Reuters ,AFP