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Germany: Conservatives lead as support for Scholz slumps, EU elections exit polls show

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz waits in line to cast his vote for the European Parliament elections, in Potsdam, Germany, Sunday, June 9, 2024.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz waits in line to cast his vote for the European Parliament elections, in Potsdam, Germany, Sunday, June 9, 2024. Copyright Kay Nietfeld/(c) dpa-Pool
Copyright Kay Nietfeld/(c) dpa-Pool
By Tamsin Paternoster
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Exit polls on Sunday evening indicated that the government's "traffic light" coalition underperformed, while the far-right AfD party made gains despite scandals.

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Early projections of European election results in Germany indicate a poor performance of the country's governing coalition and a significant rise in support for its centrist and right-wing political opposition.

Germany's conservative main opposition, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU) — part of the EPP group in the European Parliament — are predicted to comfortably finish in first place with 29.5% of the vote.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz's "traffic light coalition" has slumped, with Scholz's SPD party gaining only 14%, a decrease from the 15.9% it reached in 2019.

For the Greens, who make up the second-biggest party in the coalition, support is expected to drop dramatically from 20.5% in 2019 to just 12%, estimates by ARD and ZDF indicate. The FDP is predicted to reach just 5%.

Voter turnout in Germany was between 64 and 65% - the highest in the European election since German reunification.

The largest member state in Europe’s 27-nation bloc, Germany holds 96 seats in the European Parliament.

AfD survives series of scandals

The far-right AfD is expected to increase its share of the vote to over 14%, compared to 11% in 2019.

Although the result is lower than predicted at the start of the year, AfD's rise in support comes despite facing numerous scandals in the run-up to the elections.

Far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) top candidate for the European Parliament elections Maximilian Krah casts his vote, Dresden, Germany, Sunday, June 9, 2024.
Far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) top candidate for the European Parliament elections Maximilian Krah casts his vote, Dresden, Germany, Sunday, June 9, 2024.AP Photo

Voters remain apparently undeterred from voting for the far-right party, which has been accused in major scandals throughout the year, ranging from espionage involving Russia and China and plans to deport naturalised German citizens to its leaders mimicking Nazi-era slogans during their campaign marches.

In May, the AfD were expelled from the Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament.

The AfD can attribute a portion of new support specifically with voters under the age of 30, according to German public broadcaster ZDF.

Kilian Hampel, co-author of the 'Youth in Germany' told Euronews, "If you want to look at the AFD's popularity for young people, you have to look at the overall situation of young people at the moment."

"What we are seeing right now is that people have become unsatisfied or dissatisfied with the government, and also with their general overall personal situation" said Hampel.

Meanwhile, German newcomer the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) will take 6% of the vote, exit polls predict.

Although the party was founded just this January, the BSW was founded by prominent former Die Linke politician Sahra Wagenknecht.

The conservative-left party combines a more economic policy with a tough stance on migration and opposition to sending weapons to Ukraine. Prior to the elections, analysts expected the BSW to even go as far as to take away votes from AfD.

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