The strongest results for the AfD nationwide were in our own state of Saxony (27%), amidst much media coverage. The CDU found themselves in the ignominious position of merely coming in second for the first time in 27 years.
Saxony Premier Stanislaw Tillich was the first local casualty, after eight years at the helm. He spent less than seven minutes delivering his resignation.
Even less was said regarding state government implications.
Local politicians from all quarters now find themselves scrambling to claim positions and apportion blame after this historic rejection of conventional political practice. This does not bode well for the state elections slated for 2019 in Saxony.
The local branch of the CDU feels abandoned by the federal party, with Tillich having openly argued for a move further to the right, to stem the flow of voters towards the AfD.
This fits well with the previous joint statements delivered by Saxony’s branch of the CDU and CSU on the topic of “Leitkultur” and the call to put in border controls in the last year.
The working relationship within the state coalition between the CDU and the SPD must now be in danger. Tensions have been brewing over the last two years in particular, as the AfD has grown in support. Recently, the Mayor of Leipzig (Burkhard Jung, SPD) has been pushing back against the Minister for Inland Security (Markus Ulbig, CDU) over the shocking rape of a middle-aged woman in broad daylight in Leipzig’s popular Rosental park.
The AfD were quick to instrumentalise the crime – against foreigners and refugees in particular. The Ulbig response was to ask women to go jogging in groups. This was in turn attacked by the Mayor, who argued that a lack of police resources is being continually ignored, which limits the effectiveness of law enforcement.
Following the debacle of the escape and subsequent killing of terrorist suspect Anis Amri in December last year, this latest rape serves the potent AfD narrative of governmental incompetence. In this context, Tillich’s statement regarding a change of course reeks of panic.
Along with Tillich’s recently announced departure, the sudden resignation of the much maligned Education Minister Brunhild Kurth (CDU) is another blow for the government. It cannot be capitalised upon by coalition partner SPD.
Meanwhile, the local AfD have their own Petry-party problem.
The sudden fracture of the AfD Sachsen with (at last count) five members breaking off to follow Frauke Petry (now unaffiliated, and former head of the AfD), means that a new dynamic will come into local politics before the next election.
The question is: Can a Petry-led faction distance themselves significantly from the AfD to win over enough CDU voters and politicians?
If her faction can do this, the CDU may have no problem aligning with her in the next government, pushing a more conservative program and the state even further to the right. The next 18 months will be a dry run for this possibility, threatening the traditional progressiveness of Leipzig in the process.