Will an AfD mayor be in charge in Nordhausen in the future? The voters will decide that today. It would be the second top municipal office for the Thuringian AfD, which is classified as right-wing extremist.
First Sonneberg, now Nordhausen? The AfD has another chance for a top municipal office on Sunday. It is sending a 61-year-old entrepreneur into the race to conquer the town hall in the northern Thuringian industrial and university town. It would be the first mayoral office nationwide for the AfD, which in Thuringia is classified as proven right-wing extremist by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and is being monitored. The AfD had already won a district election a few months ago – in Sonneberg in southern Thuringia.
The initial situation in Nordhausen
The AfD candidate Jörg Prophet goes into the runoff election with a good starting position. He received 42.1 percent of the vote in the first round of voting on September 10th. He achieved by far the best result among five other applicants. Now he has to compete with the independent incumbent Kai Buchmann, who received 23.7 percent two weeks ago. The voter turnout was 56.4 percent. The runoff election was necessary because no candidate reached the 50 percent threshold.
AfD successes in municipalities
The AfD, which is classified as a suspected right-wing extremist case by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, has not only won the district election in Thuringia since the end of June, but also a mayoral election in the small town of Raguhn-Jeßnitz in Saxony-Anhalt. It started with the Sonneberg district in southern Thuringia, where the lawyer Robert Sesselmann became the AfD’s first district administrator. In representative surveys, the party achieved values of more than 30 percent not only in Thuringia, but also in Saxony and Brandenburg – there are state elections in the three federal states in 2024.
The starting position for the incumbent Buchmann is difficult, and not just because of his deficit. The mayoral election is also marked by internal disputes and personal disputes. Buchmann was temporarily suspended in the spring, but after an administrative court decision he has been back in office since August. The SPD district administrator had made allegations of bullying. Buchmann, who was a former Green Party member, is supported by the Greens, the Left and individual SPD members. There are no joint election calls from parties for Buchmann. This was tried in Sonneberg – but that played into the hands of the AfD, said an SPD politician.
Fear of normalization
Representatives of the red-red-green government coalition in Thuringia are particularly worried if there is another AfD success in a local election. The parliamentary group leader of the Left in the state parliament, Steffen Dittes, spoke of the possible “normalization of a right-wing extremist party.” This would remove barriers in the long term. In Thuringia, in 2024, members of local parliaments, mayors, mayors and district administrators will be elected nationwide in addition to the state parliament.
The party of AfD right winger Björn Höcke already has influence beyond the municipalities: in mid-September, with their help, that of the FDP and some non-attached MPs, a reduction in the property transfer tax initiated by the CDU was passed in the state parliament in Erfurt.
Nordhausen’s special history
On the outskirts of the city with around 42,000 inhabitants, a memorial commemorates the Nazis’ Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. Tens of thousands of people from Europe were deported there by the Nazis during the Second World War – many of them had to build weapons in underground tunnels under inhumane conditions. The memorial, which claims to receive concerned letters from organizations of former prisoners, assumes that there were at least 20,000 concentration camp victims.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.