German elections: AfD’s remarkable gains don’t tell the whole story

The Guardian reports: The results for German anti-refugee party Alternative für Deutschland in Sunday’s regional elections are remarkable: it won 15% of the vote in Baden-Württemberg, 12.5% in Rhineland-Palatinate and more than 24% in the east German state of Saxony-Anhalt – the strongest showing for a rightwing, populist party since the end of the second world war.

The last time these three states voted (in 2011), AfD didn’t even exist. Whatever way you look at the numbers, the AfD result is significant. However, the prevailing narrative in swaths of the press on Monday morning – that the results are a rejection of Angela Merkel’s refugee policy – is simplistic.

Here’s why. In Saxony-Anhalt, where the AfD did best, the vote for Merkel’s CDU held. The party dropped less than three points compared with 2011.

According to an exit poll for the state, a substantial majority of voters across all parties, except the AfD, prefers an open and tolerant society to a traditional one. The strongest source of AfD support, in the east German state and elsewhere, were previous non-voters (in all three states turnout was up by 10 points): [Continue reading…]

The Guardian reports: The German government will stick by its existing refugee policy, a spokesman has said, after the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland made strong gains in regional elections on Sunday.

Asked if the results in three German states, where support for chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives dwindled, would lead to a change in policy, Steffen Seibert said: “The German government will continue to pursue its refugee policy with all its might both at home and abroad.” [Continue reading…]

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