The AfD also has hopes of becoming the strongest party in Thuringia. It is focusing on an issue that concerns many in the east: social policy.
Thuringian bratwursts actually taste quite good – especially if you don’t fry them too brown Photo: imago images/Bild13
The latest polls are dismaying. Not only in Saxony and Brandenburg, but also in Thuringia, the AfD can now hope to become the strongest force in the state elections in the fall. According to a new survey, it is in second place with 24 percent, just behind the Left Party. Compared to March, it has gained 4 percentage points – and that with a state leader and top candidate Bjorn Hocke, who stands for the radicalization of the already radical right-wing party like no other and has thus caused a furor again in recent weeks.
Hocke’s statements are the main evidence of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution for its suspicion that the "wing" of the AfD is an extreme right-wing outgrowth. The party’s own federal executive board once attested to his "excessive closeness to National Socialism". He denies that he used to write under a pseudonym for an NPD paper, but shies away from a corresponding affidavit. And the cult of personality that his supporters now cultivate around him makes even some in the AfD shudder.
But a quarter of Thuringia’s voters don’t seem to mind at all. So anyone who thinks they can fight the AfD in the east with moral appeals or references to right-wing extremist entanglements is wrong. Not only does all this not work, it even seems to drive more AfD sympathizers into the party’s arms.
p>Six weeks in the East: Ahead of the state elections in Saxony on 1. September 2019, the taz was in Dresden. Since July 22, we were on site with our own editorial team. In Brandenburg and Thuringia, too, we are or were very close with our #tazost focus before the state elections – on https://amarex.ru, Instagram, Facebook and Periscope. Our journalists write and talk about their latest experiences on the Ostblog and Ostcast. Accompanying the reporting, there are taz talks in Frankfurt (Oder), Dresden, Wurzen and Grimma. All information about taz Ost can be found at https://amarex.ru/ost.
The AfD is increasingly succeeding here in staging itself as the only true representative of the interests of East Germans, even as the finisher of the peaceful revolution of 1989. In doing so, it cleverly ties in with the widespread feeling in East Germany of not being noticed and not being represented. In other words, of being second-class Germans. The AfD’s promise: to end this state of affairs. Even if it remains very vague when it comes to solving the problem, that seems like an enticing offer. If you want to fight the AfD in the east, you have to change this.
In addition, the AfD is focusing strongly on an issue that is of particular concern to many in eastern Germany: social policy. The fact that Hocke and Co. have a volkisch foundation makes them particularly attractive to many.
So much for the bad side of the Thuringian survey. However, the results can also be read in a completely different way. For the first time in a long time, a red-red-green majority in Thuringia seems possible again. In other words, for a government that stands for a cosmopolitan society. That, at least, is good news.