Germany’s CDU rules out coalition with far-right AfD

In Saxony, the AfD (Alternative for Germany) almost tripled its numbers from 2014, and doubled them in Brandenburg. But CDU and SPD want nothing to do with the right-wing populists in forming the government.

Germany's CDU rules out coalition with far-right AfD
AfD posters which had been taken down in Dresden on Monday morning. Photo: DPA

On Monday morning, CDU party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told public broadcaster ARD: “Yes, we can” when asked whether her party could leave out a quarter of the voters – or those who cast their ballot for the far-right party.

The AfD is now the second strongest force in both east German states, which held elections on Sunday.

READ ALSO: Far-right AfD second strongest force in Brandenburg and Saxony

In Saxony, the party almost tripled its result to 27.5 percent – its strongest state result ever – and in Brandenburg to 23.5 percent.

Kramp-Karrenbauer said that the CDU takes responsibility for the losses in both states. It is partly true that “we – myself included – have not been as deft as we could have been about overcoming some hurdles.”

What exactly were the final results?

In Brandenburg, the SPD (Social Democrats) narrowly came in ahead of the AfD as the strongest force, receiving 26.2 percent of the votes.

The CDU, traditionally weak in Brandenburg, fell to its worst state result with 15.6 percent, and now ranks third behind the AfD.

Graph prepared for The Local by Statista

The Left Party, which had previously been a member of the government, also collapsed, reaching only 10.7 percent of the vote. 

With 10.8 percent, the Greens not only achieved their best result in Brandenburg, but also in an eastern German state (up from 6.2 percent in 2014).

READ ALSO: 'We are heading up': Why the Green party is gaining support in eastern Germany

With 4.1 percent, the Free Democrats (FDP) did not make it into parliament. Free Voters (Freie Wähler) scored 5 percent (up from to 2.7 in 2014), narrowly making it into parliament.

In Saxony, the CDU, which has been in power since 1990, slipped to a new low; according to the preliminary official final result, it only reached 32.1 percent (down from 39.4 percent in 2014). 

The AfD was not able to overtake the CDU – unlike in the recent European elections. But it clearly replaced the Left as the second strongest force.

The SPD fell to 7.7 percent (compared to 12.4 percent in 2014), the worst state election result in its history.

The Greens increased their share of the vote to 8.6 percent (up from 5.7 percent in 2014), and the Left scored 10.4 percent the vote, the worst result since 1990, and down from 18.9 percent in 2014.

With 4.5 percent, the FDP again missed the five-percent hurdle needed to make it into parliament.

Graph prepared for The Local by Statista.

Three-way alliance

Both states are now heading for a three-way party alliance. In Saxony, where the CDU most recently ruled with the SPD, an alliance with the two parties and the Greens is the most likely.

In Brandenburg it is no longer possible to continue with the SPD-Left party government of Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD). 

He could, however, form a three-way coalition with the SPD, Left Party and the Greens with a narrow majority.

On Monday, the committees of the parties represented in the Bundestag will discuss the outcome of the elections in Berlin. Afterwards, top representatives will publicly evaluate the outcome of the votes.

AfD leader Alexander Gauland remained hopeful that the CDU will consider coalition talks with the AfD when it fails to find common ground with Greens, he said to public broadcaster ARD,

“Then the question will indeed arise: Isn't it better to talk to the AfD?” Gauland said. “We are now the bourgeois opposition party in Brandenburg. The CDU is practically marginalized.”

CDU vice-chairman Thomas Strobl emphasized, however, that the CDU must “say clearly and unambiguously that there is nothing with the people of the AfD – no coalition, no cooperation. This clarity is necessary,” he told Deutsche Welle.

The Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein, Daniel Günther (CDU), called for the party leadership in Berlin to send a greater “alarm signal” about the final results. 

Too little confidence

The civil society nonprofit Amadeu Antonio Foundation said it was caught off guard by the massive gains in votes for the right-wing populists. 

“A considerable part of the people in the East German states have too little confidence in the political system,” said Managing Director Timo Reinfrank. “The right-wing radicals are elected not despite – but because of – their anti-democratic positions.”

“What we need in East Germany…is that the federal government listens more closely to us,” said provisional SPD chairman Manuela Schwesig and Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Green Party Chairwoman Annalena Baerbock insisted on a change of policy in both Brandenburg and Saxony after the state elections.

In the ARD “Morgenmagazin” she said that the CDU in Saxony and the SPD in Brandenburg had completely ruled for 30 years – and many people in these states are annoyed by the lack of change from both parties.

“We want to revive these federal states, in climate protection, and also in the strengthening of rural regions with bus and train, with medical care. Now is the time to deliver.”

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Saxony’s Covid rules get mixed reaction from the vaccine hesitant

The eastern German state of Saxony may have ordered tough restrictions on the unvaccinated to push them to get the Covid-19 jab, but shop assistant Sabine Lonnatzsch, 59, is unmoved.

People queue at a vaccination centre in Radeberg, eastern Germany, to get a Covid vaccination without an appointment, on November 8th.
People queue at a vaccination centre in Radeberg, eastern Germany, to get a Covid vaccination without an appointment, on November 8th. Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

The new rules are “discriminatory” because they are “pushing the unvaccinated further into a corner,” she says. 

Lonnatzsch won’t change her mind about getting inoculated – she just won’t go to restaurants or events anymore.

“I’ve had corona cases in my family and in my eyes it is nothing more than a bad flu,” she says.

With Covid-19 infections rocketing in Germany, Saxony this week became the first to largely exclude unvaccinated people from indoor dining, cinemas and bars.

READ ALSO: Germany divided over Covid restrictions for the unvaccinated 

The new rules, likely to be emulated by other states in the coming weeks, are designed not only to reduce the spread of Covid-19 but also to encourage more people to get inoculated.

But Lonnatzsch is not the only one resisting the jab in the town of Radeberg in Bautzen district, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country at just 45.7 percent.

The clothing store No 1 Mode where she works has a sign in the window that lets customers know that all are welcome – regardless of vaccination status.

‘Bad for business’

Across the town square, the co-owner of Cafe Roethig also has no plans to get the vaccine. Like many people in the region, Carola Roethig, 58, is “not convinced” by the jab because “it was developed in such a short space of time”.

The district of Bautzen has one of the highest incidence rates in the country at 645.3 cases per 100,000 people, but Roethig is not worried about catching the virus.

People queue at a vaccination centre in Radeberg, Saxony.
People queue at a vaccination centre in Radeberg, Saxony. Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

The new rules are “definitely bad for business,” she says at the cafe’s bakery counter, which is lined with untouched fresh cakes, tarts and iced donuts.

“Many of our customers are not vaccinated, so we are losing income, because fewer people are coming in,” she says.


The rules are also bad for her personal life.

“I’m not allowed to go to a restaurant in the evening and have a nice dinner with my husband. I don’t think it is right,” says Roethig.

Outside the cafe, 40-year-old Susan feels the same.

“Nothing would convince me” to get the jab, she says, without giving her last name.

“I see no sense in it because (vaccinated people) can still get the disease and infect others.”

Vaccine push

The new rules come as new infections surge in Germany, with the national incidence rate reaching 213.7 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven
days on Tuesday – a record since the pandemic began.

The political parties looking to form a coalition government after September’s election have so far ruled out compulsory vaccinations and general
lockdowns to tackle the surge.

But with just 67 percent of the population fully jabbed, ministers say encouraging more people to get vaccinated is key to bringing the numbers down.

Outside Radeberg town hall, a modest queue of people formed for a vaccination event organised to encourage more people to get the jab.

Kitchen assistant Mirmirza Kabirzada, 36, had previously hesitated because “I heard that many people died in Norway and others got a fever, so I was a little bit afraid”.

But with the numbers rising so dramatically, “now I realised this is very important,” he says.

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine has been linked to very rare and potentially fatal blood clots, but experts agree that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Intensive care nurse Nicole Wieberneit, 39, is waiting in line to get her booster.

She is optimistic that the new rules will encourage more people to get vaccinated.

“When it becomes about the freedom to travel, to go out to eat, I think more people will come forward. Freedom is very important to people in Saxony,” she says.