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Germany: anti-immigration AfD ahead in polls

Germany’s political landscape is shifting, with the far-right AfD party ahead in the polls

The AFD party leadership (front row) holds a banner reading OUR LAND FIRST! during a protest against the rising cost of living in a demonstration organized by the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party on October 8, 2022 in Berlin, Germany.

Omer Messinger | Getty Images News | Getty Images


Hannah Ward-Glenton

October 3, 2023


The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) is currently polling ahead of the three parties that make up the country’s coalition government, Wahlrecht data shows, with immigration concerns thought to be a major issue for voters.


The AfD is currently polling between 19% and 23% nationally, according to data compiled across eight different platforms asking respondents which party they would vote for if there was a federal election next Sunday.


The data shows that support for the AfD comes in well above the Social Democrats (SDP), the Greens, and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), who currently make up Germany’s coalition government. The Christian Democratic Union party (CDU), formerly led by chancellor of 16 years, Angela Merkel, currently polls the highest.


State elections on Sunday in the regions of Hesse, which includes Frankfurt, and Bavaria, which includes Munich, are a key test for German sentiment toward the AfD, and whether voters see the party as a solution to some of Germany’s biggest social and economic difficulties.


The far-right party secured a district council for the first time in June, in the eastern town of Sonneberg in the state of Thuringia, and many are looking to see whether other electorates will follow suit.


In Hesse, west-central Germany, the standard of education and traffic logistics are pushing voters to choose the AfD, Robert Lambrou, the party’s candidate for the state, told CNBC Monday, but the number one issue is immigration.


“First of all you need a political will to stop it and we don’t see this will among the other parties. And many citizens see it the same way,” Lambrou told CNBC’s Annette Weisbach.


“People are … heavily disappointed by the policy of the government,” he added.

Results of Sunday’s regional elections will be the latest litmus test for Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has governed through the energy crisis and at a time when the country is once againviewed as “the sick man of Europe.”

Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

‘A backlash’

German banks have been among those to criticize Scholz’s policies, saying that structural change is needed to prevent a political shift to the right.

“For a long time we were pretty much in good shape and maybe asleep and not ready to modernize and tackle the structural necessary changes and modernizations,” Commerzbank CEO Manfred Knof told CNBC at the Handelsblatt Banking Summit 2023 in September.

“I think ... an agenda could also help and that will then be bringing the population back and of course democracy is not self-evident and we need to fight for it and we need to defend it,” he added.

Hans-Werner Sinn, president emeritus at the Ifo institute, said that it was the current government’s focus on a greener future that would likely have right-leaning political ramifications.

“There is a backlash clearly … The population is now moving to the right,” Sinn said, referring to the popularity of the AfD.


“I am not moving to evaluate anything here, but … the policies which were, for ideological reasons, completely overdrawn … Pragmatism is a little bit missing in current policy,” he told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick at the Ambrosetti Forum in Italy last month.


© 2023 CNBC

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