Far-right gains in Germany: CDU in lead, but AfD in second place at 16.5%

Green parties are anxious that results from Germany will slow down Europe’s environmental ambitions

A protest placard against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD)
A protest placard against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD)

Exit polls in Germany have shown significant gains for the far-right with the Alternative for Germany (AfD) emerging as the second largest party with 16.5% of the vote.

The opposition Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) polled at 29.5%, while ruling socialists Social Democratic party (SPD) polled at 14%.

The Greens lost ground with 12%, while the liberals Free Democrats polled at 5%.

In 2019, the CDU was at 28.9%, the SPD at 15.8% and AfD at only 11%.

Bas Eickhout, one of the two lead European green party candidates, said he was “disappointed” with the projected result in Germany but said that if the Volt party comes through with three seats, the result may come good in the end for parties that care about climate emergency and the environment.

He said the Greens did not expect to repeat the success of 2019 when they made significant gains in France. “In 2019, we had 10%. We knew we would not reach that. I think if we are around 7% or 8%, that would still be a pretty good result for us, I would say,” he told reporters.

He added that the Greens would not work with either the European Conservative and Reformists, the political group to which Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia belong, or Identity and Democracy, the party to which Marine Le Pen’s National Rally belongs. “Some are just climate deniers, even I would say climate sceptical is maybe too mild. So yes, of course I’m worried,” Eickhout said.

Green parties are anxious that results from Germany will slow down Europe’s environmental ambitions. The party dropped 8.5 percentage points since the last election, from 20.5% in 2019 to 12%, initial polls suggest.

The losses appear to be particularly pronounced among under-30s, who have shifted toward the far-right AfD and newer parties.
Since wars and inflation have pushed climate change down the political agenda, European Green politicians have put democracy at the centre of their campaign strategy, positioning themselves as an opposition force to far-right parties seeking to rip up rules that cut pollution and protect wildlife.
In Germany, where the Greens are in the national government, big losses had already been forecast.

Polls from earlier this year suggest they will also shed seats in France and Italy. Green politicians say they beat the polls in 2019 and intend to do so again tonight.

But the political landscape has shifted dramatically since the last elections, when school strikers like Greta Thunberg took to the streets and pushed climate change into the forefront of people’s minds. The protests that helped secure cross-party support for the Green Deal five years ago have shrunk in size and number, while furious farmers’ protests railing against policies to protect nature have cropped up. In the months ahead of the elections, European leaders ditched several climate measures in response.

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