AfD loses runoff election in first round since mass deportation

AfD loses runoff election in first round since mass deportation story – DW (German)

Christian Herrgott of the conservative CDU prevailed on Sunday in a regional runoff election in the eastern German state of Thuringia against the right-wing extremist AfD candidate Uwe Thrum.

The vote was seen by political observers as a barometer of the AfD's popularity at a time when damaging headlines may have slowed its alarming nationwide momentum.

The vote was the first since Correctiv, an investigative journalism company, published a report describing a meeting in November where AfD politicians and right-wing extremists – including Austrian neo-Nazi Martin Sellner of the Identitarian Movement – discussed plans for the mass deportation of Foreigners discussed and unassimilated German citizens should they come to power.

The story sparked outrage and led to numerous rallies across the country, where more than a million people demonstrated against right-wing extremism and for democracy.

More than a million people took to the streets in Germany to protest against right-wing extremism. Image: Jonas Walzberg/dpa/picture Alliance

AfD candidate Thrum had been comfortably leading the race before the Correctiv report was published – he dominated the general election two weeks ago with 45.7% of the vote compared to Herrgott's 33.3% – but only received 47.6 on Sunday % of votes versus 52.4% for goodness sake.

Herrgott, the 39-year-old Thuringian state chairman of the CDU, has been a member of the state parliament since 2014 and will take office as district administrator on February 9th.

CDU candidate Christian Herrgott received 33.3 percent of the vote two weeks ago, and on Sunday it was 52.4 percent. Image: Bodo Schackow/dpa/picture Alliance

According to election officials, around 69 percent of the 66,000 registered voters in the Saale-Orla district cast their votes on Sunday.

Further state and EU elections are planned this summer in Thuringia, where state elections will also take place in September.

The AfD enjoys great support in Thuringia, as well as in several other eastern federal states – currently with approval ratings of well over 30%. The proportion has also increased nationwide and is around 20%.

The domestic secret service said the Thuringian AfD and its outspoken leader Björn Höcke were “right-wing extremists” who posed a threat to democracy. Both have been under observation for years.

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js/lo (AFP, dpa)

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