German anti-immigrant party surges to shock election victory

Alternative for Germany (AfD) surged into three state assemblies with scores that would have been unthinkable only a year ago.

By REUTERS
March 14, 2016 14:29
1 minute read.

German anti-immigrant party wins elections

German anti-immigrant party wins elections

 
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Supporters of Germany's new anti-immigration party erupted into raucous celebrations in the eastern city of Magdeburg on Sunday (March 13) after the Alternative for Germany (AfD) surged into three state assemblies with scores that would have been unthinkable only a year ago.

Formed three years ago in opposition to euro zone bailouts, the AfD has morphed into an anti-immigration party over the past year, kicking out its founder and seizing on a record influx of migrants to lure new voters and steal disaffected members of Merkel's conservatives.

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On Sunday they had their best day ever, winning a shocking 24 percent of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt, to become the second-biggest party in the state parliament.

"We were hoping to get above 20 percent but this result is beyond our expectations," one supporter, Hagen Kohl, told Reuters at a party gathering.

The AfD also performed better than polls predicted in two other states, winning nearly 15 percent in the prosperous southern region of Baden-Wuerttemberg and over 12 percent in Rhineland Palatinate, a western wine-making state.

Exit polls showed that the AfD drew most of their support from people who previously hadn't voted for a party, but they also drew thousands of voters from Merkel's conservatives, particularly in Baden-Wuerttemberg.

While populist, anti-immigrant parties have thrived for years in other European countries, Germany has been an exception, in part because opposition to far-right ideologies runs deep because of the country's Nazi past.



The refugee crisis has changed all that. More than a million migrants entered Germany last year, unsettling many Germans and turning the AfD into a force on the national stage almost overnight.

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