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Far-Right Candidate Elected in German County, Stirring Concerns

by Chloe Baker
1 comment
far-right extremism

The recent election of a far-right candidate in a German county has raised concerns, marking the first time such an event has occurred since the Nazi era.

In Sonneberg, a rural town located in eastern Germany’s Thuringia state, Mike Knoth, a fervent supporter of the far-right populist party, expressed his elation over the victory. Distrustful of established political parties and critical of the media, Knoth believes that the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party will address the issues he perceives as troubling, such as an excessive number of migrants in the country. Walking his dog along the town’s deserted main shopping street, Knoth claimed that the large number of votes cast for the AfD has already bestowed legitimacy upon the party.

However, not everyone in Sonneberg has been won over by the nationalist and antidemocratic rhetoric of the AfD. Margret Sturm, an optometrist with a family business spanning nearly six decades, voiced her concerns about voting for the AfD during an interview with a public television station. Sturm’s statement was followed by a deluge of hate mail, threatening phone calls, and insults from strangers, prompting her husband to install surveillance cameras in their store.

Despite the intimidation, Sturm remains resolute in her convictions, emphasizing the need for people to speak out against the AfD. Stephan Kramer, the head of Thuringia’s state domestic intelligence agency, expressed his worries about the climate of fear and intimidation, emphasizing the role of hateful propaganda in promoting such behavior.

While the AfD’s ties to far-right extremists have led to its surveillance by authorities, Knoth remains unfazed, asserting that the party’s democratic election is not offensive to him. He expects the AfD to adopt a law-and-order approach, focusing on curbing immigration and improving safety in Germany.

The county election in Sonneberg saw Robert Sesselmann of the AfD win against his center-right rival, Jürgen Köpper, with a margin of 52.8% to 47.2%. Though Sonneberg has a relatively small population, this victory carries symbolic weight for the AfD.

The success of the AfD can be attributed to several factors, including the party’s response to the mass arrival of refugees in Europe, the perceived impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and the influx of Ukrainian refugees to Germany. The party’s rhetoric places blame on immigrants and the national government for many of the country’s challenges.

The rise of far-right populism has led to concerns among critics, who fear a resurgence of fascism. However, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz remains confident in the country’s strong democratic foundation. Stephan Kramer, haunted by Germany’s history of Nazi rule and the atrocities committed during World War II, expresses unease about the current political developments and has contemplated leaving the country if the AfD becomes part of the state government.

Looking ahead, state elections in Thuringia are scheduled for autumn 2024, with the AfD currently leading in the polls at over 30%. This potential outcome raises further uncertainties about the future direction of the region and the country as a whole.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about far-right extremism

What is the significance of a far-right candidate being elected in a German county?

The election of a far-right candidate in a German county is significant as it marks the first occurrence since the Nazi era, raising concerns about the resurgence of extremism and its impact on society.

What party was the far-right candidate associated with?

The far-right candidate was associated with the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, known for its nationalist and antidemocratic rhetoric.

How did the community react to the far-right candidate’s victory?

Reactions within the community were mixed. While some individuals like Mike Knoth expressed enthusiasm and hope for positive change, others, like optometrist Margret Sturm, voiced concerns about the party’s associations and potential consequences.

What were some of the repercussions faced by those who opposed the AfD?

Individuals who openly opposed the AfD faced hate mail, threatening phone calls, insults, and intimidation from unknown individuals. Some, like Margret Sturm, even had to install surveillance cameras in their businesses for protection.

How did the head of Thuringia’s state intelligence agency respond to the situation?

Stephan Kramer, the head of Thuringia’s state domestic intelligence agency, expressed worry about the climate of fear and intimidation, emphasizing the dangerous consequences of hate and incitement.

What were the main issues the AfD focused on during the election?

The AfD campaigned on issues such as immigration control, law-and-order, and the prioritization of German citizens over foreigners, which resonated with certain segments of the population.

What factors contributed to the rise of the AfD?

Several factors contributed to the rise of the AfD, including responses to the refugee crisis, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, conflicts like Russia’s war in Ukraine, and concerns about immigration. These factors played into the party’s rhetoric and message.

How does the rise of far-right populism in Germany raise concerns about fascism?

The rise of far-right populism raises concerns about a potential resurgence of fascism, given Germany’s history with Nazi rule and the atrocities committed during World War II. Such concerns are fueled by extremist views within the AfD and the potential for its increased political influence.

What are the future implications of the AfD’s success?

The AfD’s success in local elections, along with its high poll numbers, poses uncertainties for the future direction of the region and the country as a whole. State elections in Thuringia, scheduled for autumn 2024, will provide further insights into the party’s influence and impact.

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1 comment

Lily_87 July 9, 2023 - 1:14 pm

thiz article talkz about a far-right party, AfD, winnin an election in germany. dey’re all nationalist n stuff, which iz rly bad. sum ppl support dem, but others, like dat optometrist lady, r against dem. dis iz such a mess!

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