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IN PICTURES: Tens of thousands join election rally against German far right

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
IN PICTURES: Tens of thousands join election rally against German far right
A protester dressed as an astronaut in a space suit holds a placard reading "Beam me up to the polling station #protestonaut" during a demonstration to defend democracy against the far right on June 8, 2024 in Berlin, ahead of Sunday's EU elections. (Photo by CHRISTIAN MANG / AFP)

Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied in Germany on Saturday, urging citizens to vote against the far right in this weekend's European Union elections.

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With placards reading "Stop hatred" and "Down with racism", around 30,000 people joined a demonstration in central Berlin, according to Campact, one of the civil groups organising the rally.

Polls indicate the anti-immigration AfD party could win up to 15 percent of the vote in Germany on Sunday -- potentially its best-ever performance -- despite a string of scandals.

That would place it joint-second with Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democratic Party and behind the centre-right Christian Democrats.

Protesters take part in a demonstration to defend democracy against the far right on June 8, 2024 in Berlin. (Photo by CHRISTIAN MANG / AFP)

Some demonstrators in Berlin held up letters spelling out "Go vote" along with yellow stars like those of the EU flag.

"There is no better way to defend democracy than to go and vote tomorrow," activist Tareq Alaows of the refugee rights group ProAsyl told the crowd.

Protesters hold a banner reading "Right extremists out of parliaments - vote for democracy" at the demonstration. (Photo by CHRISTIAN MANG / AFP)

Thousands of people joined similar rallies in Stuttgart, Leipzig, Dresden, Munich and Frankfurt.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What's at stake in the European parliamentary elections?

The AfD was expelled from a far-right group within the European Parliament after its top candidate Maximilian Krah made comments minimising the crimes of the Nazis' SS guards.

Protesters hold posters reading "Germany is colourful" (L) and "Heart not rabble-rousing". (Photo by CHRISTIAN MANG / AFP)

Among other scandals, Krah is also being investigated over his relations with China after one of his aides was arrested on suspicion of spying for Beijing.

READ ALSO: Germany's far-right AfD denies plan to expel 'non-assimilated foreigners'

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At the start of the year, media reported that members of the party attended discussions of plans for mass expulsions of foreigners from Germany.

The report sparked weeks of mass protests.

At his final campaign rally for the election in the western city of Duisburg, Scholz urged people to vote on Sunday "to defend democracy and the rule of law".

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED - Could the far-right AfD ever take power in Germany?

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