Denes Albert, Remix, July 3, 2023
The German opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has won its first mayoral election in a municipality in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, in the small town of Raguhn-Jeßnitz.
Its candidate, Hannes Loth, won with 51.13 percent of the vote, according to the official preliminary results. His opponent, the independent Nils Naumann, won 48.87 percent of the vote in Sunday’s second and final round of the local election, according to the Hungarian publication Mandiner.
The town is located in the former GDR, which was East Germany during communist rule; the AfD enjoys its highest support in this region. Although the town has only 9,000 people, the breakthrough victory comes on the heels of the AfD winning its first district election just last week.
The district administrator of the Anhalt-Bitterfeld district, where the town of Raguhn-Jeßnitz is located, Andy Grabner (CDU), said further successes from the AfD are likely.
“If the policy that the traffic light government is currently implementing remains in place, this will not be the last mayor and the last district administrator of the AfD,” he said to the German press service dpa. He stated that these types of victories may not only become common in former East Germany but also nationwide.
Saxony’s Minister-President Michael Kretschmer, who also belongs to the CDU, echoed the statements of Grabner, stating: “Something is slipping in this country… The energy transition, the heating law, the refugee policy and the Russian embargo brought victory to the AfD. These issues threaten to tear society apart.”
The AfD, to the right of the center Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) party alliance, has been steadily gaining strength in recent months, with national electoral support of 19-20 percent, ahead of the largest governing party, the Social Democrats (SPD), which has 18-19 percent. The AfD has thus become Germany’s second-largest political force, with only the opposition CDU/CSU having higher support, at 26-28 percent.
Founded in 2013, the party entered the Bundestag in 2017 and achieved its biggest municipal election success to date a week ago. At the end of June, an AfD candidate was elected as the head of the administration (Landrat) in the Sonneberg district, also in the former GDR, which borders Saxony-Anhalt.