Far-right AfD becomes 'strongest force in state of Brandenburg' for first time
Alternative for Germany (AfD) is the strongest force in Brandenburg, the neighbouring state to Berlin, for the first time, according to a new poll. But the Greens are also on the up.
Ahead of a state election on September 1st, the survey, by Infratest dimap on behalf of regional broadcaster RBB 24, saw the AfD score 21 percent of the vote. That’s an increase of two percentage points compared to the last poll in April.
In second place is the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), who currently lead the state government in a coalition. A total of 18 percent of respondents said they would vote for the SPD, a drop of four points since the last poll.
The Greens also increased their share of the vote by five percentage points in the poll, reaching 17 percent. The centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) also scooped 17 percent in the survey, a drop of three points.
Meanwhile, The Left (Die Linke) won 14 percent (minus two points), while the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) would make it into the parliament, according to this poll, as they reached five percent.
The Freie Wähler (Free Voters) received four percent in the survey, missing the parliament threshold of five percent.
Yet despite the downward spiral of the Social Democrats, the poll also showed most people (48 percent) would like State Premier Dietmar Woidke of the SPD to remain head of the government.
His CDU challenger Ingo Senftleben received 11 percent of the vote, while eight percent of respondents would like to see the AfD's top candidate, Andreas Kalbitz as head of government.
A total of 1,000 voters in Brandenburg were surveyed from June 3rd to 6th.
So what does it all mean?
Brandenburg state government is currently run by a coalition between the SPD and The Left, who have governed together since 2009.
In the last election in 2014, the SPD scooped 33 percent of the vote and The Left 27.2 percent.
If the elections were to produce similar results to the newest poll, this coalition would not reach a majority, signalling there could be some major changes afoot in the eastern German state.
It comes after AfD won the largest share of the vote in Brandenburg in the European elections, with 19.9 percent.
The east/west divide
As The Local has reported, there are three eastern state elections in Germany this year: in Brandenburg, Thuringia and Saxony. In all of these votes, the AfD is expected to win a lot of votes.
However, it must be noted that the AfD was established in 2013 and the last state elections in these areas took place in 2014 when the party was yet to make a big impression.
It has grown exponentially since then - gaining seats in the Bundestag after snagging 12 percent of the vote in the 2017 federal elections.
The party could also get its first mayor: voters in the eastern German city of Görlitz go to the polls for the second time this Sunday.
In the first vote last month, AfD candidate Sebastian Wippel, 36, took 36.4 percent of the vote, followed by Christian Democratic Candidate Octavian Ursu, 51, who won 30.3 percent of the vote.
However, because none of the candidates won an absolute majority, there will be another round of elections on June 16th. On Sunday, 58.6 percent of the city's 56,000 residents voted.
What are the important issues in Brandenburg?
For voters, infrastructure and traffic were the hot topics. Next on the agenda was education, including schools and apprenticeships.
The topic of environmental protection and climate change was taken much more seriously than in the last survey in April: a total of 19 percent of the respondents consider it an urgent issue, compared to 12 percent in the last poll.