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Local elections: AfD pressures CDU in local parliaments in Thuringia

Local elections: AfD pressures CDU in local parliaments in Thuringia

For the AfD, the Thuringian local elections should be a ramp for the state elections. For the time being, it is not taking over town halls and district offices, but it is making itself felt in the councils and district assemblies.

The big breakthrough is not yet coming, but the AfD will probably play a bigger role in Thuringia’s district councils and city councils than before. “It will be even more difficult to exclude them, in some cases it will no longer work at all,” said Bochum political scientist Oliver Lembcke to the German Press Agency about the local elections in Thuringia on Sunday.

Due to this strength in the local councils, the firewall issue will “actually become more and more of a metaphor that becomes a burden for the CDU.” In Thuringia, 13 district administrators and 94 mayors and lord mayors were elected on Sunday. In addition, the election of new members to hundreds of local councils was at stake. The AfD did not win the district council elections in the first round, but it could become the strongest force in some district councils.

What will happen to the firewall?

The president of the Thuringian Association of Municipalities and Cities, Michael Brychcy (CDU), sees this tendency in a similar way. If elected AfD representatives sit in local parliaments, one cannot act “as if there is a firewall there,” says Brychcy. However, the CDU has a resolution declaring the AfD and the Left Party incompatible.

The Thuringian AfD is classified as definitely right-wing extremist by the state’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution and is being monitored. The party led by right-wing extremist Björn Höcke did not achieve a single immediate success in the first round of the election of district administrators and mayors on Sunday. In nine runoff elections in two weeks, it still has a chance of winning top municipal offices. However, according to current results, it is only slightly ahead in Altenburg Land.

In the district of Hildburghausen, a neo-Nazi made it to the runoff election. According to the 2022 report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, his voting group “Alliance for the Future of Hildburghausen” (BZH) is developing “into the leading neo-Nazi group in the district of Hildburghausen”. There was no AfD candidate there.

AfD partly the strongest force

According to interim results, the AfD is moving dangerously close to the CDU in the municipal councils – it could become the strongest force in eight of 17 district councils and in the city council of the independent city of Gera. The counting was still ongoing in some cases on Monday afternoon.

Looking at the results across the country, on Monday morning, after 2581 of the 3047 voting districts had been counted, the CDU was ahead with 27.6 percent, ahead of the AfD, which came in at 26.4 percent. It is quite possible that the result will still change, as the counting in the state capital of Erfurt has not yet been completed. While the AfD improved by almost ten points compared to 2019, the CDU kept its share of the vote largely stable at this count. The Left, SPD and Greens, who form the state government in Thuringia, suffered losses. In the district of Sonneberg, where the AfD appointed its first district administrator in Germany, the party was clearly ahead shortly before the end of the counting.

The bar was set high

Lembcke said that the AfD would be given more “blackmail power” to “be allowed to participate”. “They will be able to blackmail more and more so that their proposals and their ideas are given more consideration, that people talk to them and agree with them.” He expects that the AfD will be able to work away at its exclusion in the municipalities more than before.

Höcke had set the bar high before the local elections. He told the dpa last year: “We want to be the strongest force in the local elections.” The “local foundation” must be solid, Höcke said at the time, “so that we can then also succeed at the state political level.” A new state parliament will be elected in Thuringia on September 1st. The AfD has been in first place in polls for months, but recently it has lost some of its support, with ratings between 29 and 30 percent.

Image problems after scandals

The party recently slipped into a crisis at the federal level. The reason is statements made by the AfD’s top candidate for the European elections, Maximilian Krah, about the SS and a spy scandal involving one of his employees. The number two on the AfD’s European election list, Petr Bystron, is under investigation on suspicion of bribery and money laundering.

“The AfD has messed it up because it has presented the worst possible image in recent weeks,” said Lembcke, referring to the numerous scandals in the AfD.

Source: Stern

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