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Far-right AfD now the second most popular party in Germany: poll

A poll published on Monday by the newspaper Bild put the Alternative for Germany (AfD) on 16 percent, showing that they are currently more popular than the Social Democrats (SPD).

Far-right AfD now the second most popular party in Germany: poll
AfD federal chairman Jörg Meuthen. Photo: DPA

The poll, conducted by INSA put the AfD on 16 percent, just ahead of the SPD on 15.5 percent. The poll marks the lowest support ever achieved by the SPD, traditionally one of the two major parties of German politics.

According to the poll Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats are the most popular party in the country and would secure 32 percent of the vote were elections to be held tomorrow.

Environmentalists can take heart from the poll too, as it confirms a trend of blooming support for the Green party. The Greens won 8.9 percent of the vote in September’s election but are now polling at 13 percent.

The popularity of the far-right AfD has been creeping up in recent weeks, with polls consistently putting them on 14 percent or above.

They entered the Bundestag for the first time in September after winning 12.6 percent of the vote. The party was set up in 2013 and fought the election of that year on an anti-Euro platform, but failed to make it over the five percent hurdle needed to make it into parliament.

Last year they ran a campaign fiercely critical of the government's refugee policy, which had led to over a million people applying for asylum in Germany since 2015.

The leadership of the AfD rejects the label of far-right, preferring to describe themselves as conservative. However, they remain highly controversial due to various statements by senior party members which have challenged a political consensus concerning how Germany treats its Nazi past.

Björn Höcke, the AfD leader in Thuringia, has lambasted Germany's culture of remembrance of the Holocaust, labelling the Holocaust Memorial in central Berlin a “memorial of shame.”

Party leader Alexander Gauland, meanwhile, said during election campaigning last year that Germany should be proud of the service of its soldiers in two world wars.

On the other hand the popularity of the SPD has plummeted as they look set to join a third grand coalition with Merkel as a junior partner. Germany‘s oldest party – around since the late 19th century – scored their worst post-war result in 2017 at 20.5 percent and have only haemorrhaged support since then.

TRAVEL NEWS

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

It's official - people in Germany will get cheap public transport for three months this summer after the €9 ticket was approved.

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

As part of a host of energy relief measures to cushion the cost of living crisis, the German government is offering cheap public transport for the months of June, July and August. 

Monthly tickets will be available at a price of €9 (or €27 for all three months) and they will allow people to use all buses, trains and trams in local and regional transport throughout the country.

So even if people buy the ticket in Munich, they will also be able to use local and regional buses, trains and trams elsewhere in Germany, whether it’s Hamburg or Cologne. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

The ticket will not be valid, however, on long-distance transport such as ICE trains or Flixbus.

The offer was put together by the coalition government – made of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP.

The Bundestag voted for the initiative on Thursday, agreeing to give federal states a subsidy of €2.5 billion to fund the project. 

And on Friday, the Bundesrat – the upper house of parliament that represents the states – gave the green light to the ticket, paving the way for it to begin on June 1st. 

States had wanted an extra €1.5 billion funding boost to deal with lost revenue, however it would have been hugely controversial if they had blocked it.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

During a debate on Thursday, federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said the €9 project was “already a success”.

“All of Germany is talking about local public transport,” he said, adding that it is also being viewed with interest abroad. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 ticket

The Left party (Die Linke) voted in favour of the €9 ticket, but leader Bernd Riexinger said he thought the plan didn’t go far enough. “Three months is simply too little,” he said.

The opposition, however, slammed the move. Christian Democrat Michael Donth called it an “expensive experiment”.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn will offer the ticket for sale as early as Monday. Local public transport providers across the country are also preparing their ticket machines for the initiative. It will also be available in travel centres.

People with subscriptions to local transport will automatically benefit from the offer. 

In some regions, such as Stuttgart and Freiburg, the ticket is already available for purchase.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

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