Far-right fears in Germany as controversial party wins its first mayoral seat

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In a landmark moment for German politics, a member of the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has achieved a historic victory as the first-ever AfD-affiliated mayor in the country.

Hannes Loth, an agriculturalist and active municipal council member, emerged victorious in Raguhn-Jessnitz, Saxony-Anhalt, securing a significant 51.1 per cent of the votes in a closely contested runoff, according to the municipality’s official announcement.

Reflecting on this unprecedented development, Dr Helena Ivanov, a political analyst, told Express.co.uk: “Clearly many voters across Europe, Germany included are not happy with their current governments, and some of those voters see the far-right as an appropriate alternative to status quo.

“The rise of AfD is of course problematic, not only because of their political views, but also because it seems that the centre and left-wing political parties aren’t really engaging with the voters or offering solutions to the problems they identify.”

The AfD’s recent resurgence has been buoyed by their ability to resonate with disenchanted voters and capitalise on the perceived shortcomings of the current ruling coalition, consisting of the Social Democrats, Greens, and Liberals.

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Dr Ivanov further pointed out that the left and centre parties must take this situation seriously and develop substantial strategies to address voters’ grievances.

Failure to do so could risk Germany following in the footsteps of other European countries, where the far-right has gained significant influence or even joined the ruling coalition, as observed in Italy and Sweden.

The Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society added: “Going forward, I’d argue that the left and centre parties need to take the situation seriously and come up with substantial ways to address the voters’ grievances.

“Otherwise, they risk that Germany becomes yet another party in which the far right wins and/or becomes part of the ruling coalition, like in Italy or Sweden.”

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Loth’s election as mayor marks a significant milestone for the AfD, cementing his position as the first-ever mayor affiliated with the controversial party.

While a previous AfD member had held the mayoral office in a southwestern German town between 2018 and 2020, it is worth noting that he joined the party only after being elected during his term, setting Loth’s achievement apart.

Adding to their recent victories, the AfD secured a notable win in the local election for the presidency of Sonneberg district in the state of Thuringia.

Various factors have contributed to the AfD’s upward trajectory, including public disillusionment with the current coalition government, composed of the Social Democrats, Greens, and Liberals.

The AfD has capitalised on perceived shortcomings and vigorously opposed the policies of the ruling coalition, resonating with disenchanted voters. Notably, the party’s stronghold appears to be in the former East German regions, including Saxony-Anhalt, where economic and social challenges persist, and support for mainstream parties has significantly dwindled in recent years.

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