The far-right German Alternative für Deutschland is set to defeat Chancellor Angela Merkel across the east of the country, potentially acting as a severe blow to the German Chancellor.
Despite remaining relatively low in terms of overall national popularity, the far-right party looks set to win victories in dozens of local elections after taking the lead over Merkel’s Christian Democrats in pre-election polls. While the lead is slender, 23% to the CDU’s 22%, the news comes as a worrying sign both for Germany and anti-far-right activists across Europe as it opens the possibility that the AfD could be on course for an electoral breakthrough in the autumn.
A victory for the AfD later this year in any of the former East German states of Thuringia, Saxony or Brandenburg would bring the far-right back into the German parliament for the first time since the fall of the Nazis.
The news comes as it was revealed that the AfD has invited former Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon to a media conference for “right-wing” journalists and bloggers. The so-called Conference of the Free Media will seek to inform the “right-wing” press on better and more effective methods of influencing the media in the future.
Bannon, the former chairman of the far-right Breitbart, has met with many of the European far-right over the previous months, meeting Marine Le Pen of France’s National Rally (formerly the National Front), and also has plans to work with the Islamophobic and antisemitic Viktor Orban of Hungary.
Bannon has attempted to act as a power-broker or go-between of sorts as Italy’s Matteo Salvini and Le Pen attempt to forge a united far-right front across Europe.
The far-right is expected to make gains at the May European elections, with one poll in Germany’s Bild suggesting they could even double the number of seats they currently hold.