German regional elections on Sunday can possibly reshape the political German east, hurt mainstream parties – and possibly catalyse the end of the Merkel era.
Five million voters will be voting to elect new state parliaments in Saxony and Brandenburg. The two polls are viewed as political indicators of lingering frustrations over German unification, 30 years on, and growing fatigue with the 14-year reign of Angela Merkel and her liberal migration legacy.
Analysts believe that tapping dissatisfaction in both states is the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).
Derrick Scally, writes in the Irish Times that “A quarter of voters in Saxony and a fifth in Brandenburg are set to back the six-year-old party that emerged in the euro crisis as a bailout critic and is now well on its way to becoming an extremist, xenophobic far-right party under control of eastern regional leaders. Saxony’s lanky AfD leader Jörg Urban has pitched himself as the anti-establishment candidate to cut funding for immigration projects, introduce referendums on mosque planning applications and boost “welcome payments” – for new parents, once they are German.”
Jorn Fleck and Alex Pieter Baker, of Foreign Policy write that “the most profound changes await Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The two state elections are likely to bring long-simmering tensions in the party to a head about its future direction. The moderate and conservative wings of the CDU, long at odds about a populist challenger to the right, could square off in the aftermaths of the Saxony and Brandenburg ballots. The fallout could accelerate Merkel’s departure from German politics and spell trouble for her chosen successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.”
The Local (Germany) adds the AfD, formed six years ago as a eurosceptic group, now focuses mainly on fear and anger over Germany’s mass migrant influx since 2015.
It already has seats in all 16 German state assemblies and the national and European parliaments. Eastern Germany is home to several of the AfD’s most extremist leaders, among them Björn Höcke, who has labelled Berlin’s Holocaust memorial a “monument of shame”, and his close ally Andreas Kalbitz, the top candidate in Brandenburg.
The chancellor, who also grew up in the east, has avoided campaigning ahead of Sunday’s polls in the region, where she has in the past faced harsh abuse.
POLITICO’s poll of polls on these elections can be accessed here.
Election Watch is compiled by CiConsulta’s Geopolitics Advisory Division. For more detailed analysis contact us on email@example.com