Far-right AfD party makes large gains in two German state elections

The anti-immigrant party, with some politicians who also have suggested that Germany is too obsessed with the Holocaust, achieved second place in Brandenburg and Saxony.

By TOBY AXELROD/JTA
September 3, 2019 03:28
1 minute read.
Far-right AfD party makes large gains in two German state elections

Supporters of the Anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) hold German flags during a protest in Berlin, Germany May 27, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE)



The head of Germany’s Jewish community is urging democratic political parties to clearly distance themselves from the right-populist Alternative for Germany Party, which made large gains in two state elections.

The anti-immigrant party, with some politicians who also have suggested that Germany is too obsessed with the Holocaust, achieved second place in elections Sunday in the former east German states of Brandenburg and Saxony, with 23.5 and 27.5 percent respectively. In Saxony, the Christian Democratic Union of Chancellor Angela Merkel won the largest percentage of votes, while in Brandenburg the Social Democratic Party came out on top.



“It would be devastating to sit back and relax” just because the right-wing party did not gain first place, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the German-Jewish weekly newspaper Juedische Allgemeine on Monday.



He urged voters not to be complacent, and not to be taken in by AfD leader Alexander Gauland’s recent attempts to whitewash the party by calling it “bourgeois.” Last month, Schuster said in an interview that the AfD is closely interwoven with right-wing extremism, inciting fears and promoting an anti-minority atmosphere. Despite concerns about anti-Semitism among the many Muslims in Germany, the far right remains the greatest threat to Jews, he said.



Speaking to the Jewish weekly in the hours following the weekend’s election, Schuster said he was relieved that the worst-case scenario – a bigger win for the AfD – had not come to pass.


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