Rightwing Party Finishes 3rd in German Elections

Rightwing Party Finishes 3rd in German ElectionsRightwing Party Finishes 3rd in German Elections

The rightwing Alternative for Germany (AfD) has bagged third place in municipal elections in the central state of Hesse and the populist party is polling strongly a week ahead of three key state elections.

Preliminary results, which won’t be confirmed until Thursday, gave AfD 13.2% of the vote in Hesse’s ballot, just beating the Greens (11.6%) for the third position. In some municipalities, the euroskeptic and anti-migration party led by 40-year-old Frauke Petry claimed more than 20% voter support, according to the provisional results, DPA reported.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats narrowly claimed the most votes, at 28.2%, just ahead of the Social Democrats on 28%.

State Finance Minister Thomas Schafer, a Christian Democrat, said he expected AfD’s final results to be slightly lower than initially predicted. He also ruled out any coalition between CDU and AfD.

A poll for broadcaster ARD showed support for AfD in Saxony-Anhalt at 19%, a result that would make it the third strongest party there after Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the communist-rooted Linke party. In Baden Württemberg, AfD polled at 13%, with 9% projected support in Rhineland-Palatinate.

Under German electoral law, winning 5% or more of the popular vote guarantees parliamentary representation—the same target Petry has set for the party nationwide in 2017’s general elections.

The party’s strong anti-immigration stance has congealed since Petry successfully ousted party founder and economist Bernd Lucke, a committed euroskeptic who was rather more moderate in other regards.

“First of all, we need to work toward controlling the borders and deporting a lot of people who are in Germany without having the right to be here,” Petry told Reuters from the campaign trail in an interview in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, an industrial town in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.