The success of the German far-right in the weekend’s two state elections, and the mainstream parties weaknesses, have provoked reaction around the country today. Under the leadership of Udo Pastörs, the NPD won over seven percent of the vote in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, with campaign slogans like “Tourists welcome, asylum cheats out”. So the extreme right entered its fourth state assembly, after earlier strong showings in Brandenburg, Saxony, and Bremen.
Three of these, like Mecklenburg, are states from the former East Germany, where radical parties from both right and left do well compared to the big establishment parties. Leaders of the governing CDU party of Chancellor Merkel all agree that these are bad results for her government, in coalition with the SPD.
Saxony’s CDU leader Georg Milbradt said voters’ confidence would return once the government brought its programme into action. Although the SPD also suffered from electors’ disappointment at the progress made by the Grand Coalition, it did well in Berlin where Klaus Wowereit increased his share of the vote. But the CDU fell to a post-war low, even if the NPD failed to win seats in the state assembly.
SPD leader Kurt Beck praised the popular Berlin mayor’s win; “The results are a great success for us. We took part in a very difficult situation, but we got the voter’s approval to form the next government”. None of Germany’s three far-right parties have ever won a seat nationally, but they are increasingly better organised. Their next chance to increase influence will not be until fresh state elections in 2008.