State elections in Germany: AfD on the rise

The far-right AfD party made major gains in elections in the German states of Bavaria and Hesse on Sunday. The AfD is listed by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution as suspected case 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 wonder what this means for the federal government.

Népszava (HU) /

Worrying perplexity

The other parties are stumped by the question of how to tackle the AfD, criticises Népszava:

“Particularly worrisome is the utter perplexity among democratic parties. They don’t know how to contain the AfD. ... Although Chancellor Scholz embodies a calm force and is not fond of making hasty decisions, it is clear that things cannot continue like this. The coalition parties also recognise this, but the initial reactions indicate that each sees the fault in the other, not in themselves. And this is not the best way to restore trust.”

Tamás Rónay
Diena (LV) /

Another setback

Diena sees the traffic-light coalition in Berlin in a precarious position:

“The most important result of these two elections is another historic low for the Social Democrats represented by Chancellor Olaf Scholz. In Bavaria, the Social Democrats secured only 8.4 percent of the votes, and in Hesse only 15.1 percent. ... Support for the other parties in the governing coalition — the Greens and the Free Democrats — is also declining. ... In general, the voters’ turning away from the governing parties and shifting to the right has become such a convincing trend that the question of whether the coalition can survive until the next elections is becoming increasingly relevant.”

Andis Sedlenieks
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