German state elections will be held in Saxony and Brandenburg today.
In Saxony, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) is closely rivalling Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats Union (CDU). Meanwhile, in Brandenburg, the AfD—polling at 21% of the vote—is tied with the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the party with which the CDU forms a national coalition. From winning just 12.2% of the vote in Brandenburg and 9.7% in Saxony five years ago, this is a huge victory for the AfD.
Strongly against immigration, the AfD has been described as leaning towards extremism. However, the AfD’s voter growth has been largely attributed to its anti-environmentalism. As Germany prepares to shut down mining coal by 2038, many of the industry’s 22,000 workers facing job loss are unwilling to re-adjust their skill set to meet the nation’s needs.
With German national elections only two years away, expect pressure to mount for SPD to break away from its coalition with the CDU. Also expect the AfD’s gains today to give those favouring protectionism a greater platform.
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Saira is an analyst in the Current Developments team, where she focuses her research on the Middle East and North Africa region.