German far-right leader says state election gains show party has ‘arrived’

BERLIN (AP) — A leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany said Monday that her party is no longer a primarily East German phenomenon after two strong elections State election results in the wealthier west of the countryand declared: “We have arrived.”

The ten-year-old Alternative for Germany (AfD) is strongest in the former communist east of the country. It hopes to emerge as the strongest party in three state elections in this region for the first time in about a year.

However, co-chair Alice Weidel said the party’s gains on Sunday in the western states of Hesse and Bavaria showed that “the AfD is no longer an eastern phenomenon, but has become a major pan-German party.” So, we’ve arrived. “

Alice Weidel, co-chair of the Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Alice Weidel, co-chair of the Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Sunday’s elections, midway through the term of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s unpopular three-party government, followed a campaign marked by discontent ongoing dispute in the state government and through pressure Reduce the number of migrants arriving in Germany.

Germany’s main opposition force, the conservative Union bloc, won the two elections in the states it already led.

But the AfD was one of the day’s biggest winners, finishing second in Hesse with 18.4% of the vote – the first time it has done so in a state election in the west. It was also the party’s best result to date in a state election in the west, surpassing its previous record of 15.1% in southwest Baden-Württemberg in 2016.

It also increased in Bavaria and took third place with 14.6%.

The AfD was founded in 2013, initially with the focus against rescue packages for the eurozone. After the arrival of large numbers of refugees and migrants in 2015, it gained strength and entered the German Bundestag for the first time in 2017.

Recent national polls have put the party in second place with an approval rating of about 20%, well above the 10.3% it achieved last year last federal election in 2021.

Other parties refuse to address this while at the same time blaming the strength of the far right.

Weidel argued that maintaining a “firewall” against the AfD was “deeply undemocratic.”

“I assume that the disdain and disregard for the Alternative for Germany, which excludes them from government responsibility, will not be sustainable in the long term,” she said.

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