17 Jul 2023, 13:41
Benjamin Wehrmann

Controversy over government's heating law fuels far-right AfD’s success – state premier

Süddeutsche Zeitung / Clean Energy Wire

The far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party’s current high results in German polls can be attributed to mainstream political parties having neglected the centre of society, as well as shortcomings in the legislative process surrounding key climate policy, said the state premier of east German Saxony-Anhalt Reiner Haseloff in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Haseloff said two thirds of AfD supporters only regard their vote for the party as a protest against other parties. This has been compounded by poor communication of climate measures by the government, such as in the controversial heating law that left many people worried about the prospects of high costs of replacing their fossil heating systems, Haseloff said. He also criticised the rushed legislative process, which was halted by Germany's top court. “The mood has heated up so much that the AfD really doesn’t have to do anything at all. They just need to wait for the next mistake to happen,” he argued. While a green transition in the heating and transport sector must be implemented, people should not get the feeling that the fast pace of change is overburdening them, Haseloff added. The state premier hails from the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), which currently maintains its lead over the AfD in Saxony-Anhalt.

Support for the far-right AfD, who often reject the energy transition wholesale and deny the need to act on climate change, have surged across Germany in recent months. It currently is the strongest party in polls in eastern states Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg, all of which will he holding state elections in late 2024. In national polls, the AfD has increased its standing considerably since the federal elections in 2021, when it gained just over ten percent of the vote, currently standing at 20 percent. It has repeatedly come out as the second strongest party behind the conservative CDU/CSU alliance, which stands at about 28 percent. Support for the Social Democrats (SPD), the party of chancellor Olaf Scholz, has dropped from more than 25 to below 19 percent or less. Coalition partner FDP dropped from 11.5 to 7 percent, while the Greens are at about 15 percent - just like in the last election. Before the state elections in eastern Germany, western states Hesse and Bavaria will elect a new government already on 8 October this year.

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