Posted on July 24, 2023

German Center-Right Leader Mulls Cooperation With Far Right at Municipal Level

Hans von der Burchard, Politico, July 23, 2023

The leader of Germany’s center-right opposition, Friedrich Merz, said on Sunday that his party may look to work together with the far right at the municipal level — indicating a potentially ground-breaking shift in German politics that immediately attracted sharp criticism.

Germany’s established parties have long rejected any cooperation with the far-right, anti-migration and climate change-denying Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which was founded 10 years ago and has in recent months risen to the second position in national polls.

But Merz told public broadcaster ZDF in an interview Sunday evening that his Christian Democratic Union (CDU) may abandon this position, although he argued that this shift only applied at the local level.


Earlier this month, the AfD also for the first time won a mayoral election in Raguhn-Jeßnitz, in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt.

“Of course, that’s a democratic election. We have to accept that,” Merz said. “And of course we have to look for ways in the regional parliaments how we shape the city, the county, the regional district.”

Merz added, however, that he still rules out any cooperation of his CDU with the far-right AfD at regional state politics, at the federal level or in the European Parliament.


Merz’s comments immediately sparked controversy as they indicate a substantial softening of his party’s long-proclaimed “firewall” against any cooperation with the far right. {snip}