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Far-right AfD overtakes Germany's Social Democrats in polls

The Local Germany
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Far-right AfD overtakes Germany's Social Democrats in polls
AfD election campaigners set up a stall in Berlin Charlottenburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

If a federal election was held today in Germany, the anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party would pick up more votes than the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), a new poll reveals.

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In the ARD Deutschlandtrend poll released on Friday, almost a fifth (19 percent) of respondents said they were planning to vote for the AfD at the next federal election in Germany.

This would make the far-right party the second largest in the Bundestag behind the centre-right CDU/CSU parties, which would pick up 29 percent of the vote, according to the poll. 

The centre-left SPD, who are currently heading up the three-party traffic light coalition alongside the Greens and Free Democrats (FDP), would be forced into third place with just 17 percent of the vote.

The Green Party, which has recently seen approval ratings plummet due to its unpopular heating bill, would pick up 15 percent of votes, while their coalition partners in the FDP would accrue just six percent. 

Four percent of voters said they would vote for the Left Party, falling short of the five percent hurdle for entering the Bundestag. 

Growing support for AfD

The poll is the latest in a series of surveys that have shown support growing for the far-right party among the German population. In a similar ARD poll on June 2nd, the AfD was level with the SPD on 18 percent. 

The latest figures represent a record level backing for the AfD among the German population. 

Speaking on ARD's Morgenmagazin programme, Thorsten Frei, the head of the CDU's parliamentary group, blamed the governing traffic-light coalition for the uptick in AfD support.

READ ALSO: Far-right AfD at new high as climate issues split Germany

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"If bad policies are made - and those can primarily be made by the government - then it is a stimulus programme for the political fringes," Frei said.

The votes gained by the AfD can be traced directly back to votes lost for the SPD, Greens and FDP, he added.

However, the government's antisemitism commissioner, Felix Klein, pointed out that the highest level of support for the far-right party could be seen in the former East Germany. 

"The dissatisfaction with the overall development of society actually manifests itself more strongly there than in the West," he told DPA. "It has to be better communicated - government work in general - and it must also be made clear to people that populists do not offer answers."

No coalition with AfD

So far in Germany, all other mainstream parties in the Bundestag have refused to work with the AfD and have said they would never enter a governing coalition with the party due to their extremist views.

This effectively shuts the party out of government - unless they are able to get an overall majority, or more than 50 percent of the vote.

In order to prevent AfD candidates from running in run-off elections for mayoral or district council offices, other parties have also recently joined forces.

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READ ALSO: 'Inhumane ideologies': Germany labels far-right AfD's youth wing 'extremist'

In another ARD poll, 52 percent said they thought this was the right thing to do, while more than a third of the respondents (35 percent) were against this kind of move. 

A further 13 percent either did not want to answer or did not know. 

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