The German far right makes gains as ruling parties decline, but the conservatives advance in the European elections

Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s unpopular ruling parties slumped to weak results and the far-right Alternative for Germany party made gains in Sunday’s vote for the European Parliament, while the mainstream conservative opposition was by far the country’s strongest political force. far.

Forecasts by public television ARD and ZDF, based on opinion polls and partial counts, showed support for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s centre-left Social Democrats at around 14%, below the 15.8% they managed in 2019 – already their worst result after World War II. . In a national vote. After a campaign in which Schulz played a prominent role, the Social Democratic Party has fallen by more than 10 points from its level in the last national elections in Germany in 2021.

Alternative to GermanyThe AfD was seen winning just over 16% of the vote, likely to take second place. That’s better than his 11% showing in 2019 but still well below his poll ratings at the start of the year. The party has experienced a series of setbacks since then, Including scandals Surrounded by two The main candidates For the European Parliament.

Projections showed that the environmentalist Greens, the second largest party in Schulz’s coalition, fell from its peak of 20.5% five years ago to around 12%. Support for the pro-business Liberal Democrats, the third party in the disputed government, was estimated at 5%. Both were well below their results in the 2021 German elections.

The center-right Union bloc, now the main opposition force, was expected to win by about 30%. This is disappointing by historical standards but is in line with the results of 2019 and better than its results in the last national elections. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a member of the Christian Democratic Union, the dominant party in the two-party bloc, said she was impressed by the party’s performance.

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“This is a severe defeat for us today,” said Kevin Kuhnert, Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party. “We will come back, and we will fight our way out of this,” he vowed.

“The election campaign has definitely been a bit bumpy, but we are used to the headwinds, and that makes us stronger,” Tino Shruppala, co-leader of the AfD, told broadcaster ARD. He said the “continuous media fire” against his party had had no effect.

Referring to three state elections in September in the eastern regions where the party is strong, he said: “We want to win them and we will do it.” He and co-leader Alice Weidel sidestepped questions about the party’s main candidates and their futures.

Schulz’s coalition government set out to modernize Germany but gained a poor reputation Constant disagreement At a time when the economy, the largest in Europe, is struggling to generate growth.

Even as they campaigned, coalition partners argued over how to draw up the 2025 budget while adhering to Germany’s strict self-imposed rules on debt management.

Christian Democratic Union Party leader Friedrich Merz celebrated the union’s performance and described the expected results as a “disaster” for the ruling coalition, noting that most voters were influenced above all by internal political considerations.

“It is in particular a serious defeat for the chancellor, who was on posters all over the country” alongside his party’s main candidate for the European Parliament, Merz said. He described it as the “last warning” from voters before Germany’s next national elections, expected in the fall of 2025.

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New forecasts showed BSW Party He received about 6% of the votes. Founded by prominent opposition politician Sahra Wagenknecht, BSW combines left-wing economic policy with a restrictive approach to immigration and opposition to arms supplies to Ukraine.

Germany has 96 of the 720 seats in the new European Parliament, the most for a single country.

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