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Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

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Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
A polling station in Arnstadt, Thuringia. Local elections were held on Sunday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jacob Schröter

Thuringia votes in local elections, another racist incident shocks the country, and other news from around Germany on Monday.


Important test before state elections: results of Thuringia's local elections awaited

Around 1.7 million citizens were invited to vote in Thuringia's local council and mayoral elections on Sunday.

With three months to go until Thuringia's state elections, these local votes are considered an important test of the electorate's mood.

All eyes were on on the performance of the far-right AfD party, which has many supporters in the Free State.

Recent polls suggest it could be the strongest force in the state elections on 1st September.

By 4pm on Sunday, voter turnout stood at 46.2 percent, slightly higher than in the 2019 local and European elections.  

A preliminary result in the early hours of Monday suggested the AfD came first in one district - Altenburger Land. However, as their candidate Heiko Philipp missed out on the necessary absolute majority with 33 percent, the future district administrator will be decided in a run-off election with the second-placed CDU candidate Uwe Melzer.

In eight other districts, the AfD candidates were in second place according to interim results, which is why there will also be run-off elections there. In most cases, it will come down to a duel between the AfD and the conservative CDU.

The state of Thuringia has been governed by Die Linke's Bodo Ramelow, Germany's only left-wing state premier for almost 10 years, with a short interruption, but the CDU has always been considered the top dog in the municipalities, especially in rural regions.

In the district of Schmalkalden-Meiningen, the incumbent district administrator Peggy Greiser from the SPD reportedly won. In the mayoral elections in Weimar and Suhl, the incumbents Peter Kleine (indepdendent) and André Knapp (CDU) prevailed according to provisional results. There were no AfD candidates in either city. In the cities of Erfurt, Gera and Jena, there will be run-off elections.

In total, 13 of Thuringia's 17 districts have to fill the positions of district administrator. In June last year, the AfD won the first district administrator post for the party nationwide in the Thuringian district of Sonneberg.

A final result should be available on Monday at the earliest. If there is no majority, the necessary run-off elections will take place at the same time as the European elections on June 9th.

Milk falls out of favour in Germany

Germans are drinking significantly less cow's milk these days amid changing societal trends.

According to data from the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food, per capita consumption of dairy milk stood at around 46 kilos in 2023, a drop from the mid-1990s when it was still about 60 kilos.


Nonetheless, the Federal Statistics Office still lists Germany as the largest producer of cow's milk in the EU, and the dairy industry is one of the highest-turnover agricultural sectors in the country.

“In Germany we are moving very strongly towards non-animal staple foods,” said Jana Rückert-John, professor of the sociology of food at Fulda University.

“Meat and all other animal products have come under massive fire from different directions in social debates.”

Cutting down on milk and other animal products is no longer just a fringe concern or a vegan issue, with many people worried about animal welfare, the carbon footprint, sustainability and climate protection.

According to the latest nutrition report, a representative survey commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, 80 percent of buyers pay attention to how a farm animal lives.

And a good half of those surveyed have already bought vegetarian or vegan alternatives – most often plant-based substitutes for drinking milk and dairy products.

According to polls for the Society for Consumer Research, almost 93 percent of households continue to buy UHT or fresh milk, just less of it.


Racist incidents shock Germany

Two men are being investigated after they reportedly sang "Foreigners out" to the tune of a disco hit at the Bergkirchweih festival in Erlangen on Friday.

A 21-year-old man and a 26-year-old man shouted the words, replacing the apolitical lyrics of Italian musician Gigi D'agostino's "L'Amour Toujours" in a restaurant in the festival area.

The men were thrown out and barred from the festival site.

The criminal investigation department of the police's state protection office and the local public prosecutor's office are investigating the crime and police are looking for witnesses.


"Xenophobia and racism have no place in Erlangen's Bergkirchweih," the city of Erlangen said in a post on X, adding that the song would no longer be played there.

This came just days after a similar incident at upmarket bar Pony on the island of Sylt over the Whitsun bank holiday.

Young people were filmed singing an old Nazi slogan, "Germany for the Germans – foreigners out" to the tune of the same Italian disco hit.

The now-viral video also shows one man seemingly making the illegal Nazi salute and imitating Hitler's moustache with his fingers.

READ ALSO: Outrage after partygoers filmed shouting racist slogans on German island of Sylt 

The venue has also said it will not play the song again. 

Germany's anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, condemned the right-wing extremist incident in the Pony.

Klein said he was shocked by the recording "not because the existence of such misanthropic ideology surprises me, but because it has clearly become part of pop culture and socially acceptable in a milieu that should be aware that foreigners contribute significantly to our prosperity."

One expert said that the Sylt video showed that far-right extremist behaviour was becoming normalised in society.

"People can express extreme words in public without reserve," said Pia Lamberty, co-director of extremism monitoring agency Cemas, adding that "L'Amour Toujours" is increasingly linked to racist words. "It does something in the brain," she said, explaining that that's how extremists create acceptance for such words in wider society.


Lower Saxony Green Party politician injured in attack

Lower Saxony state parliament member Marie Kollenrott from the Green Party was attacked and injured at a stand at an election campaign event in Göttingen on Saturday, the police and the Green Party parliamentary group said.

According to the police's current findings, a man punched the politician several times in the upper body and Kollenrott sustained minor injuries to her arms. She did not need to go to hospital.

The officers arrested the 66-year-old suspect shortly afterwards near the crime scene. State security has now taken over the investigation.

“It is and remains unacceptable that politicians repeatedly fall victim to violent attacks during election campaigns,” said Lower Saxony’s Minister-President Stephan Weil (SPD) on Saturday evening.

“What we are currently experiencing is a dangerous development. Our democracy only works if people visibly commit themselves to their convictions in public,” he added.

With additional reporting from DPA



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