Race heats up in eastern German states as parties bid for votes in final election rallies

Two days before locals go to the polls in Saxony and Brandenburg, a new survey shows it's a very close race at the top.

Race heats up in eastern German states as parties bid for votes in final election rallies
A campaign poster for the CDU in Saxony featuring state premier Michael Kretschmer. Photo: DPA

As parties brought their big names out for the final rallies to end heated election campaigns, a survey shows support for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) in Saxony has increased slightly. Support for the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) in Brandenburg has also gone up.

The CDU in Saxony, led by state premier Michael Kretschmer, reached 32 percent in the ZDF Politbarometer (plus 1 point compared to the previous week) – increasing its lead over the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). The anti-immigration party dropped by 0.5 to 24.5 percent in the latest poll. 

Meanwhile, the Social Democrats in Brandenburg, led by state premier Dietmar Woidke, also gained one percentage point to reach 22 percent.

READ ALSO: Could the far-right AfD really win in upcoming German state elections?

But the SPD continues to compete closely with the AfD, which gained one point to reach 21 percent in the latest poll. As The Local has reported, if the AfD does win, it would be the first outright election victory for the party which rallies against Germany's recent mass migrant influx.

It does not mean that the AfD would come into power, however, as all parties have said they would not work with the party in government, and instead form their own coalitions.

Dietmar Woidke, state premier of Brandenburg, campaigning in Panketal in July. Photo: DPA

What about the other parties?

In Saxony, according to the poll, The Left (die Linke) gained 14 percent, the Greens scooped 11 percent (plus two points), and the SPD reached 8.5 percent. The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) will be hoping they can reach the five percent needed to get into the state government.

In Brandenburg, according to the ZDF political barometer, the CDU ranked behind the SPD and AfD with 16.5 percent (minus 1.5), the Greens had 14.5 percent (plus 0.5), The Left had 14 percent, the FDP reached 5 percent and the Free Voters (Freie Wähler) managed 4 percent.

READ ALSO: Brandenburg elections – in east German rust belt, economic fears boost far right

At events on Friday, the parties are bringing out high-profile names to get residents on their side. In Brandenburg, the Greens will be enlisting the help of party co-leader Annalena Baerbock at a rally in Potsdam, while the SPD is pulling in Finance Minister Olaf Scholz in Oranienburg.

The AfD’s controversial Thuringia regional boss Björn Höcke will be on hand to help pull in voters in Königs Wusterhausen.

The Greens co-leaders Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock campaigning in Dresden, Saxony, this week. Photo: DPA

In Saxony, CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was due to campaign in Leipzig, while the Greens will draft in co-chairman Robert Habeck in a bid to convince voters.

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Scholz calls for Ukraine backing as aid wobbles

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday called on Western allies to send a "message" to Russian President Vladimir Putin by renewing their support for Ukraine, as political divisions threatened to hold up aid.

Scholz calls for Ukraine backing as aid wobbles

Russia’s war in Ukraine was one that would likely “drag on for a long time”, Scholz said at a press conference.

“That is why it is important to formulate a long-term perspective that we are prepared to support Ukraine for as long as it is necessary and to the extent it is necessary,” said Scholz, speaking alongside his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte.

Putin was “hoping the readiness in our countries to do what is necessary and to formulate the necessary support diminishes”, Scholz said. “It would be a very important message, if we told him: don’t count on it.”

Germany along with its partners in NATO and the European Union have provided Ukraine with billions in aid to sustain its war effort. But the stream of support has looked at risk of drying up as political divisions on both sides of the Atlantic threaten to block new supplies.

In the EU, Hungary’s prime minister has threatened to block fresh billions in aid, when the bloc’s 27 leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday. At the summit, the EU is eyeing agreements to give Ukraine 50 billion euros ($54 billion) more in financial aid, topping up a weapons fund for Kyiv by five billion euros and opening talks to join the bloc next year.

Meanwhile in the United States, Republican senators last week blocked $106 billion in emergency aid primarily for Ukraine and Israel in a dispute over immigration reforms.

Outgoing Prime Minister Rutte expressed confidence that the Netherlands would continue to back Ukraine, after the far-right topped the polls in national elections last month. “I am convinced that in the Netherlands we have a large majority… that is pro-Ukraine, which will ensure that we continue with support for Ukraine,” Rutte said.

READ ALSO: Scholz says Ukraine support ‘of existential importance’ – despite debt woes