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German far-right AfD party wins mayor's office amid record-high polling

Germany’s far-right AfD notched up another first Sunday when its candidate was elected a full-time town mayor, in a further boost for the anti-immigration party.

AfD supporters pictured at a rally in Schwerin in northern Germany on August 10, 2021 [John Macdougall | AFP]

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) has surged to record highs in opinion polls, and the latest result comes just a week after they won their first district election.

Hannes Loth was elected mayor of the small town of Raguhn-Jessnitz, in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, in a run-off against independent candidate Nils Naumann, according to results on the town’s Facebook page.

Loth, reportedly a 42-year-old farmer who was already a member of the local parliament, won 51.1 percent of the vote against 48.9 percent for Naumann in the town of about 9,000 inhabitants.

It marks the first time the party has won an election race for a full-time mayor’s position, German media reported.

AfD members have held positions as voluntary, or part-time, mayors in smaller places.

An AfD member was a full-time mayor of a town in southwest Germany from 2018 to 2020 but was not elected under the party’s banner – he joined the outfit during his term.

Loth thanked his supporters for the “wonderful result.”

“I will be mayor for everyone in Raguhn-Jessnitz,” he wrote on social media.

In last week’s election, Robert Sesselmann, a lawyer and regional lawmaker, won a runoff for district administrator in Sonneberg in the central state of Thuringia, near the border with Bavaria.

Recent surveys have put support for the AfD at a record 18 to 20 percent, neck-and-neck with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats and behind only the conservative CDU/CSU bloc.

Thomas Krueger, head of the federal agency for civic education, warned this weekend the party should not be dismissed as a “mere protest movement”.

“Voters want this party... the situation is serious,” he told the RND media group.

Created in 2013 as an anti-euro outfit before morphing into an anti-Islam, anti-immigration party, the AfD has benefited from growing discontent with Scholz’s three-party coalition amid concerns about inflation and the affordability of the government’s climate plans.

High immigration also remains a key voter concern.

The AfD stunned the political establishment when it took around 13 percent of votes in the 2017 general elections, catapulting its lawmakers into the German parliament.

It slid to around 10 percent in the 2021 federal election.


(c) 2023, France 24


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