Germany's far-right AFD leaders cheer as exit polls published

The far-right Alternative for Germany shrugged off a string of scandals to make solid gains and take second place in Sunday's EU election (June 9), according to first exit polls, a result that, if confirmed, would underscore the party's resilience ahead of next year's federal election.

"We had a bumpy start to the election campaign and then really caught up in the final spurt," said AfD's co-leader Alice Weidel on Sunday evening after the exit polls results had been announced. "After all the prophecies of doom, after the barrage of the last few weeks, we are the second strongest force," she added.

The AfD won a record 16.5 percent of the vote on Sunday, according to an exit poll published by state broadcaster ARD less than the 22 percent it was polling in February, but still 5.5 percentage points more than in the last EU election in 2019 and more than all three parties in Chancellor Olaf Scholz's coalition.

"We all fought for a better result. And I say really fought," said SPD's main candidate for the EU election, Katarina Barley, noting that she was sure that the party would recover and that "things will then move forward and upwards again".

The AfD has tapped into frustrations with Scholz's government, support for which has plunged since it took office in late 2021 as it contends with multiple challenges from the Ukraine war and state services burdened by rising migration to a cost of living crisis.

Germany's Greens were the biggest loser on Sunday, down 8.5 percentage points to 12 percent, according to the exit poll, punished by voters for the cost of policies to reduce CO2 emissions in line with expectations for environmental parties across Europe.

The conservatives, who are in opposition at federal level, were forecast to come first, rising slightly to 29.5 percent. But analysts say next year's election next year is still wide open, not least because Friedrich Merz, their likely chancellor candidate, is gaffe-prone and could alienate more centrist voters.

Source: (Reuters)

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