August 04, 2019

Poll shows Germany still divided 30 years after fall of Berlin Wall
Almost 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new poll has exposed the enduring political divisions in Germany. The nationalist Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has surged to first place in the former communist east, with 23 per cent support. But it has failed to make a similar breakthrough in the former west, where it is in fourth place with just 12 per cent. The figures for the Green Party, which is in second place in the national polls, are almost a mirror image of the AfD’s. In the former west, the Greens have 25 per cent support, but in the east it is they who are mired in fourth place with just 13 per cent. Just three months ahead of national celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, the findings of the poll for Bild am Sonntag newspaper have laid bare the deep divide that persists across the old Cold War border. The AfD looks set to dominate the headlines in the run-up to November’s anniversary, with the polls suggesting it could come first in regional elections in three eastern states this autumn. The party's anti-migrant platform has proved highly effective in the former communist east, where the city of Chemnitz saw violent protests last year. But the east accounts for less than a fifth of Germany’s population, and the party has failed to make the sort of inroads in the west it would need to challenge for power. Current polls suggest the AfD could come first in three regional elections in eastern Germany this autumn Credit: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg The poll’s findings suggest Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) are the only party that can claim nationwide support. They are first in the west with 27 per cent, and second in the east with 22 per cent — a single point behind the AfD. Support for Germany’s other traditional main party has collapsed: the centre-Left Social Democrats (SPD) are third in the west on 13 per cent and a dismal fifth in the east with just 11 per cent. While the AfD is unlikely to win a majority in any of this autumn's regional elections, and will probably be kept out of power by a coalition of rival parties, coming first would be a shot across the bows of Mrs Merkel's government. The latest poll findings come as a new academic study claimed to show how the AfD distorts public perception of migrant crime figures. Researchers at Hamburg and Leipzig universities found AfD press statements blamed migrants for crimes in 95 per cent of cases last year, while police figures show they were only responsible for 35 per cent. “It’s surprising how consistently this happens,” Prof Thomas Hestermann and Prof Elisa Hoven, the study’s authors, said.
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