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Far-right AfD makes gains but fails to win outright in local elections

Julian Vonarb, Lord Mayor of Gera, comes to cast his vote for Thuringia local elections, at a polling station in Gera, germany, Sunday, May 26, 2024.
Julian Vonarb, Lord Mayor of Gera, comes to cast his vote for Thuringia local elections, at a polling station in Gera, germany, Sunday, May 26, 2024. Copyright Associated Press
Copyright Associated Press
By Euronews with AP
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The far-right German party has fallen short in its longtime stronghold, auguring ill for its performance in the European Parliament elections.

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The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has made gains in local elections in the state of Thuringia, but failed to secure outright victories – this after one of the party's best-known figures was recently convicted of knowingly using a Nazi slogan in a speech.

Sunday's elections at county and mayoral level in Thuringia come ahead of a state election on 1 September in which Alternative for Germany's local leader, Björn Höcke, plans to run for the governor’s job.

Official results with about four-fifths of districts counted on Monday showed Alternative for Germany, or AfD, gaining nearly nine points compared with 2019 to take some 26% of the vote across the state in elections for councillors.

However, it remained a little behind the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Germany's main national opposition party, whose support was more or less unchanged.

It was in Thuringia that AfD won its first county leadership post nearly a year ago, marking a new electoral high point. However, since then, the party has come under intense legal scrutiny.

A recent federal court ruling upheld the classification of the party as a suspected extremist organisation, while earlier this month, a separate court ruled that Höcke knowingly used a Nazi slogan in a 2021 speech and ordered him to pay a fine totaling €13,000. His lawyers are appealing.

Round two

Nine AfD candidates either qualified for runoff votes on 9 June or appeared likely to, setting them up mostly for duels with CDU rivals. Only one county where the far-right party enjoyed a small lead going into the runoff vote for head of the local administration.

Observers suspect AfD is likely to lose the runoff votes as mainstream parties' supporters give their votes to its rivals.

While it has built a strong core of support, AfD has had a turbulent few weeks, partly a result of scandals surrounding its lead candidate for next month's European Parliament election.

Polls ahead of the EU Parliament elections show the CDU well ahead of the other German parties. While various right-wing and far-right parties hope to make major gains across the bloc, the AfD has seen its numbers slipping somewhat in recent weeks.

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