Germany’s rapidly rising Eurosceptics have dealt a fresh embarrassing blow to Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats party in state elections in Hamburg. Alternative for Germany (AfD), which wants to force crisis-hit countries such as Greece out of the single currency, looked likely to win its first seats in a west German parliament. The AfD vote was hovering just above the 5 per cent threshold needed to win seats in parliament in initial projections based on a partial vote count. The AfD made significant gains from Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who saw their share of the vote fall by a projected 5.9 per cent in one of their worst results in recent times.
Hamburg, one of three city states along with Berlin and Bremen, has been a fortress for the centre-left Social Demoracts since the Second World War, and the winner of the vote was never in doubt. But this was the first time support for the AfD has been tested in a west German state, after it made striking gains in the less affluent east last year.
It is also the first election since the anti-Islam and anti-immigrant Pegida movement swept though the German political scene.
Unlike Eurosceptic parties in other countries, the AfD is not opposed to the EU, but wants an end to the single currency, starting with the expulsion of poorly performing economies like Greece.