04 Oct 2023, 13:15
Jack McGovan

Support for German far right strongest in industrial areas with biggest decarbonisation need - analysis

Clean Energy Wire

The number of voters for the far right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is highest in industrial areas that are most in need for decarbonisation efforts, according to a new analysis by the German Economic Institute (IW). Such ‘transformation regions’ are defined by a high employment rate in energy intensive industries or the auto industry, with the majority found in the West. In a poll from the start of 2023, a total of 16.7 percent of those living in transformation regions said they would vote for the AfD – 3.7 percent higher than in less affected areas. The report highlighted, however, that support for the AfD isn’t always high in these areas. In the 2021 federal election, the AfD only received 4.4 percent of the votes in Mainz, the capital of industrialised western state Rhineland-Palatinate – a strong contrast to the 32.5 percent in Görlitz, Germany's easternmost town in industry-rich state Saxony. Support for the AfD is, however, mainly defined by an opposition to the country’s current policies on migration, the report said.

In national polls, the far right party has almost doubled its support since the 2021 federal election. Concerns have been raised that this could be linked to the coalition government’s climate policies, such as the heating law, which left many people with worries about the cost of replacing fossil fuel heating systems. The leading candidate for the AfD in the EU elections has previously expressed opposition to climate policy and Germany’s Green Deal. Upcoming state elections in Hesse and Bavaria this week are expected to be influenced by the surge in support for the AfD.

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