The 6th of June Saxony-Anhalt regional elections , the last before the Bundestag elections this autumn, came as a surprise to some. In what was known as the stronghold of the AfD the CDU managed to increase their voter share by 7,4% from the previous elections to 37,1%.
AfD on the other side recorded a decline in their voter share, the Greens who have been polling high nationally ended up with only 5,8% while the liberal FDP managed to re-enter the state parliament after 10 years as it surpassed the 5% election threshold.
Saxony-Anhalt has for quite some time been known as the stronghold of the far-right anti-immigrant AfD party. In its debut regional elections in Saxony-Anhalt in 2016 the AfD gained 24,3% of the votes which translated to 25 seats in the state parliament.
The man who led the AfD, Andre Poggenburg, resigned from the leadership in 2018 after labelling Turks as “camel drivers'' and immigrants with dual nationality as “homeless mob we no longer want to have.” The party’s election platform for the 2021 regional elections included ideas such as paying €2,000 for each baby born to German parents, a statement that Islam is not compatible with Western values and a proposal to defund theatres which promote “Anti-German” plays.
Recently the AfD has been torn by a ‘civil-war’ between the radical and moderate factions within the party, in 2020 Jörg Meuthen one of the co-leaders even proposed to split the party to isolate the radicals, he claimed, were costing the party votes.
According to reports from March by some regional media the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has placed the AfD under surveillance.
The man behind CDU’s victory, Reiner Haseloff, has been the state Premier since 2011 from 2016 until 2021 in a move to not allow the AfD to gain any government positions in the region Haseloff has been leading the so called “Kenya'' coalition; coalition between the CDU, Greens and the SPD.
In late 2020 Hasleoff’s government was on the brink of collapse over a vote on broadcasting fees as some in the CDU had agreed with the AfD to vote against the idea of increasing them. The interior minister of the state mentioned during an interview that if as a result of the vote the state government collapses the CDU could rule in a minority government supported by the AfD, he was fired by Hasleoff shortly after the interview.
Currently negotiations are ongoing after the recent elections as to who will rule the state from 2021 until 2026, there are many possibilities: “Kenya'' coalition CDU, Greens & SPD, “Jamaica” coalition CDU, Greens, FDP or “German” coalition CDU, FDP, SPD. All of the mentioned parties refused to cooperate with the AfD.
Just months away from the federal elections the CDU managed to regain its first place in national polls, the unexpected victory in Saxony-Anhalt seems to have helped the party catch the necessary momentum before the elections.
It’s candidate for chancellor Armin Laschet is now leading the polls when it comes to who would the Germans prefer to be chancellor after the federal elections, few weeks ago it was the Greens candidate Baerbock who has been leading them, since then however the Greens have gotten into an internal fight among the more hawkish and pacifist factions when it comes to foreign policy their ideas of increasing fuel prices also didn’t go well with the German public.
Haseloff has undoubtedly managed to bring hope to the CDU that they can win the federal elections and increase their poll rating months before the federal elections. It is now up to Laschet to use that momentum and energise CDU’s campaign if he wants to become the Chancellor after 16 years of Merkel’s Chancellorship.