Narrow defeat for German nationalists
The NPD – Germany’s main nationalist party – suffered a narrow defeat this weekend in elections for the regional parliament of Saxony. At the last elections five years ago the NPD polled 5.6%, winning eight seats. This year their vote fell by a fraction to 4.95%, very slightly below the required 5% threshold, so there will be no NPD members in the new Landtag.
The main reason for this defeat was the arrival on the German political scene of a new eurosceptic party – Alternative für Deutschland (AFD) – which is effectively a more liberal version of UKIP. AFD won 9.7% and will have fourteen seats in the new Saxony Landtag, their first success in any of the German regional parliaments.
AFD is seen as a respectable protest vote by millions of German voters who (like many of their fellow Europeans) despair of the establishment parties. To this extent their electoral breakthrough (like that of UKIP) is a positive development.
Sadly however one consequence has been to deprive genuine nationalists of a parliamentary voice. Unlike the NPD, AFD is mostly pro-immigration and pro-EU, though hostile to the euro.
The biggest losers in the Saxony election were the FDP – Germany’s liberal party and traditional coalition partners of the ruling conservatives. The FDP lost all of their Landtag seats after their vote collapsed from 10.0% to 3.8%.