State elections in Germany: AfD on the up

The far-right AfD party made major gains in elections in the German states of Bavaria and Hesse on Sunday. Both the AfD and its youth organisation the Young Alternative for Germany (JA) are listed by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution as suspected cases of right-wing extremism. The AfD came third after the CSU and the Free Voters party in Bavaria, and second after the CDU in Hesse. Commentators discuss the reasons for the AfD’s advance in these states and what it means for the rest of the country.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Another new era

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung sees the results as proof that the AfD is now well established in western Germany:

“There is much talk these days of a new era. When we look back, could it be that this weighty term will also be applied to the state elections in Bavaria and Hesse? The successes of the AfD in these two states show that the old story that large parts of the political system have been telling themselves for so long is no longer fit for purpose: that the Alternative für Deutschland is a purely eastern German phenomenon. A party that wins more than one and a half million votes in two [of Germany’s] key industrial states, an unprecedented victory, has arrived in the west and is there to stay.”

Alexander Kissler
The Economist (GB) /

Warning bells for the Ampel

Ironically, the election results might increase the chances of Scholz’s coalition goverment remaining in power, The Economist believes:

“With his junior partners, the liberal FDP and the Greens, getting pasted at the polls, neither they nor Mr Scholz’s SPD have any interest in pulling the Ampel down. And while the surge in support for the AfD worries many Germans, the party’s stronger showing may prove hard to translate into greater power. All other parties still reject the idea of coalition deals with the hard right. ... Mr Scholz and his coalition have certainly heard the warnings. The Ampel’s rhetoric on immigration has grown notably tougher lately, and the Green party has trimmed its environmental ambitions.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Hunger for simple solutions

The election gains of the AfD speak to people’s aversion to our crisis-ridden reality, Tagesspiegel writes:

“To the miseries that lie in wait, to the escalating crises. Voters are increasingly putting a cross in the AfD box because they are sick and tired of the state of the world. This also helps explain why all parties, even the Greens, have lost votes to this taboo party. New and old AfD voters closed their eyes and ears to the numerous signs of this party’s anti-democratic agenda and the various registers of racist views purveyed by their functionaries and supporters. They chose the simplistic solutions offered by the party because they just want an end to all the problems. Right now. Job done.”

Ariane Bemmer