The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party failed to unseat the incumbent mayor in a runoff election in the central industrial city of Nordhausen.
AfD candidate Jörg Nabe won 45.1% of the vote in Sunday’s local polls, while independent candidate Kai Buchmann received 54.9%.
Al-Nabi admitted defeat in a press statement in which he referred to himself in the third person: “We have a new mayor. Mr. Al-Nabi has become number two in this election.”
Buchman said he was “very pleased” with the outcome and that he would use the next six years in office to try to “achieve the best results for the city.”
The Prophet was the most likely candidate before the elections. The 61-year-old businessman won more than 42% of the vote in the first round two weeks ago, while Buchmann received just 23.7%.
Buchmann, an independent previously associated with the Green Party, had hoped to rally support from key voters who view the AfD as a right-wing extremist. Germany’s established parties have united to keep the AfD out of power in the past, but the ban on cooperation with them appears to be fading as the AfD’s popularity rises.
Recent opinion polls indicate that the Alternative for Germany party has about 21.5% of support nationwide. But in the eastern state of Thuringia, where Nordhausen is located, the party received 32% of the vote.
The populist party has been mired in controversy over its anti-immigrant stance, with mainstream politicians warning of similarities between the AfD’s ideology and the Nazis. Recently, a court in Thuringia decided that the regional leader of the AfD, Björn Höcke, would face prosecution for allegedly using a banned Nazi slogan in his speech.
The far-right populist party achieved two victories in local elections in eastern Germany during the past few months.
In June, the Alternative for Germany party took over the district administration for the first time, after its member Robert Siesselmann won the district council elections in the Sonberg district in Thuringia.
In July, the party won its first mayor’s post in the small town of Ragon-Gesnitz in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.
Alternative for Germany candidate and Germany’s past
Nordhausen, with a population of about 42,000, is located near the former Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp, part of the larger Buchenwald complex. At Mittelbau-Dora, forced labor was used to build V-2 rockets, resulting in the death of one in three workers.
The Prophet raised eyebrows with his statements about Germany’s past, suggesting that the Allied forces that liberated Camp Mittelbau-Dora were only interested in information about rockets and shells.
He also urged an end to the “cult of guilt” in Germany that describes Germans’ attitudes toward the Holocaust.
DJ/GCJ (AFD, DPA)
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