Support grows for Bavaria's Free Voters party after anti-Semitism scandal

DPA/The Local
DPA/The Local - [email protected]
Support grows for Bavaria's Free Voters party after anti-Semitism scandal
Hubert Aiwanger waves from a stage at the Gillamoos folk festival in Lower Bavaria on Septemer 4th 2023. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The Free Voters party grew four percentage points in an opinion poll this week just days after leader Hubert Aiwanger was embroiled in a scandal surrounding an old anti-Semitic leaflet.


If a state election were held this week, 16 percent of respondents said they would vote for the populist Free Voters, a junior partner in the Bavarian governing coalition headed by centre-right CSU leader Markus Söder.

Polling began on Monday for the representative survey carried out on behalf of broadcasters Sat.1 Bayern and Antenne Bayern – a day after state premier Markus Söder's decision to retain Aiwanger in office.

According to the poll, the CSU would receive 38 percent of the vote in Bavaria (-1 percent), the Greens 13 percent (-1), the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) unchanged at 14 percent, the centre-left SPD 8 percent (-1), and the liberal FDP remains at 4 percent.

An Insa poll for the Bild newspaper published on Tuesday showed similar results, with the Free Voters also gaining four percentage points.

Keeping Aiwanger in office allows Söder to keep his coalition government intact ahead of an October 8th regional election, for which postal voting has already begun. Söder is hoping for re-election and wants to continue governing with the Free Voters.

The Bavarian premier said on Sunday it would "not be proportionate" to sack Aiwanger -- a move that would have upended the southern state's ruling coalition.

Aiwanger had faced days of controversy over Nazi pamphlets found in his schoolbag as a teenager in the late 1980s.

The 52-year-old deputy state premier admitted to being in possession of the leaflets but denies producing or distributing them. His brother has since claimed to be the author.

READ ALSO: Why a high profile Bavarian politician is embroiled in an anti-Semitic row

The document proposed a satirical quiz on "the biggest fatherland traitor" and offered as a prize "a free trip through the chimney in Auschwitz".


Aiwanger, who is also Bavaria's economy minister, on Thursday said he had made mistakes in his youth and apologised for any hurt caused, especially to victims of Nazi-era atrocities.

The flyer revelations sparked widespread outrage in Germany, a country still atoning for the slaughter of six million European Jews in the Holocaust.

Former classmates also made further allegations in recent days, including accusing Aiwanger of telling Nazi jokes and giving the Hitler salute. Aiwanger either denied the claims or said he could not recall the events.

AFP also contributed reporting


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also