German Eurosceptics win state seats in Saxony
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German Eurosceptics win state seats in Saxony

Alternative für Deutschland beats two mainstream rivals, as leader declares party has ‘arrived on political landscape.’

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Germany‘s anti-EU party the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) scored a triumph in Saxony on Sunday by winning its first representation anywhere in the country.

Contesting its first election in the state, the AfD beat two mainstream parties, the Greens and the Free Demoratic party, to come fourth.

The AfD leader, Bernd Lucke, said the result proved “the AfD had definitively arrived in the German party landscape”.

The result adds weight to the AfD’s claims that it has re-ordered Germany’s political establishment, after official analyses showed the party took votes from across the spectrum – particularly from Angela Merkel‘s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – to win 9.7% of the vote.

That is potentially enough to claim 14 of the 126 seats in the Saxony parliament. It would even be enough to enter government as part of a coalition with the centre-right CDU, though that has been ruled out by the CDU state premier, Stanislaw Tillich, whose party was the clear winner with 39.4%.

The result is particularly significant as the euro crisis was not the focus of the election campaign in Saxony – when the AfD was founded in February 2013, it was seen as a cerebral party of disgruntled economists unhappy with Merkel’s currency policy.

But the Saxony campaign suggests the AfD is increasingly positioning itself as a rightwing alternative to the mainstream CDU – it has proposed tighter controls on asylum seekers and quicker deportations. Germany expects to host a record number of refugees this year.

Political researchers Infratest found that the AfD took 13,000 votes from the far-right National Democratic party – enough to tip it out of the state parliament.

With this new momentum, the AfD looks likely to consolidate its power in the regions in two weeks, when Brandenburg and Thuringia states go to the polls.