• Germany's news in English

Anti-euro party to debut in state parliament

AFP · 31 Aug 2014, 08:29

Published: 31 Aug 2014 08:29 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Voters in eastern Saxony state will be the first to vote in regional legislative elections since Merkel's triumphant return for a third stint at the helm of Europe's top economy in last September's general election.

Her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have been in power in Saxony since Germany's 1990 reunification and are expected to remain dominant, but the party will likely need a new coalition partner.

The emergence of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has found a stronghold in Saxony since the eurosceptic party's formation in early 2013, could help muddy the alliance-building waters.

Buoyed by its leap into the European Parliament in May, the AfD has been polling at around seven percent in Saxony -- the state where it got its best result in the federal election but narrowly missed out on entering the German parliament.

The AfD, set up by economics professor Bernd Lucke, a former CDU member, wants the orderly dissolution of the euro, an end to EU bailouts and for Germany to return to its once beloved Deutschmark.

"Its challenge is to make this Europe and federal political approach somehow relevant at the state political level," said Werner Patzelt of the Dresden Institute for Political Science.

Merkel positioned herself as the single currency's champion during the eurozone debt crisis when Germany financed the lion's share of bailouts for stricken nations, demanding strict austerity measures in exchange.

'Taboo issues'

The economy of Saxony, which borders both Poland and the Czech Republic, is one of the most dynamic of Germany's ex-communist states, hosting big car producers and earning the nickname "Silicon Saxony" as a microchip centre.

As Germany approaches the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Saxony ballot is the first of three former eastern state votes in quick succession, followed by neighbouring Thuringia and Brandenburg on September 14.

AfD lead candidate Frauke Petry, 39, a trained chemist and mother of four, has focused her campaign on family issues, calling for couples to have more children and for a tightening of the abortion laws, as Germany's population is rapidly ageing.

The party has also called for a referendum on the building of mosques with minarets in Saxony.

Petry firmly rejects claims the AfD has flirted with the far-right, insisting in an interview with AFP at a Dresden rally last week that the party "simply addresses many taboo issues" from which other parties shy away.

"We have never been far-right," she said.

'Nobody asked us'

Saxony is one of two regional parliaments to include members of the far-right, anti-immigrant National Democratic Party of Germany, but polls suggest its re-entry after Sunday could be a close call.

While the CDU is set to win just over 40 percent of the vote, according to a Politbarometer poll for ZDF television Friday, its current allies, the pro-business Free Democrats, are not expected to win enough votes to stay in the state parliament.

Saxony's CDU state premier Stanislaw Tillich has so far kept all options open and avoided ruling out any possible tie-up with the AfD, but such an alliance seems unlikely as it would flout the party line.

Story continues below…

Merkel twice in the past week said the AfD, as a coalition partner, was out of the question for her conservatives.

Closest to the CDU in the latest poll was the far-left Linke party, which has roots in East German communism, with 20 percent, followed by the centre-left Social Democratic Party with whom Merkel governs nationally in a "grand coalition".

Henning Richter, 58, traditionally a CDU voter, who attended Petry's rally, seemed impressed with the AfD's support for Swiss-style referenda.

"You know, for years I've been wondering how is it possible that the money from our taxes goes abroad for bailouts, for banks, for I don't know what reason, for which nobody ever asked us our opinion," he said.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ex-chancellor Schröder to mediate in supermarket row
Gerhard Schröder. Photo: DPA

Can Gerhard Schröder bring an end to the Kaiser's Tengelmann saga?

Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd