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German election: continuing popularity of far-right AfD has roots in east-west  divide

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Sunday’s parliamentary election in Germany will see Angela Merkel’s 16-year stint as chancellor come to an end. She was the first person from the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) to rise to the post. The performance of the populist radical right party the Alternative for Germany (AfD) is also being hotly anticipated.

The AfD has, to date, seen its best results in the territories that comprised East Germany. It is polling strongly in the eastern regions and is in the lead in pre-election polls for Saxony, on 26% of the vote. It appears that the party will repeat its successes from the last federal election, where it gained 12% of the votes, further consolidating its position in the national parliament. As the first radical-right party in the parliament since 1960, the AfD has been able to normalise radical right politics despite the fact that no other parliamentary party will work with it.

The AfD’s strong performance in east Germany can, in part, be seen as a reaction against the imposition of the western fusion of capitalism and democracy after 1989. For many east Germans, this shift was associated with deprivation, social disintegration and the loss of a political home. Even today, many feel that they are still treated as second-class citizens. Under these circumstances, distrust in the political establishment is common........

© The Conversation

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