The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has received a groundswell of support in Eastern Germany, leading in polls just weeks before regional elections in three states. Support for major parties is at a historic low.

In an outcome sure to unnerve Germany’s more conventional politicians, a series of polls conducted in June and July has demonstrated that the anti-establishment force has moved to the fore in the former Eastern Bloc territory, where they enjoy steady public backing – all ahead of the crucial regional elections, two of which are scheduled in about a month’s time.

By contrast, the heavyweights of German politics – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their coalition partners in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) – are facing what might be called a near collapse of popular support in the same eastern regions. In the latest poll conducted by the Emnid Institute, AfD picked up 23 percent of the vote in the five East German states, narrowly beating out the CDU, which received 22 percent.

All other political forces are lagging: the Left Party (Die Linke) took third place with 14 percent backing, while the Greens nipped at their heels just one percentage point behind. Meanwhile, the Social Democrats, once considered one of Germany’s “people’s parties” – or factions enjoying the broadest public support – have dropped to fifth place in the East, earning a mere 11 percent of the vote.

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