Three German political parties have agreed to band together in the state of Saxony-Anhalt to keep the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) from taking power. AfD took the second-largest share of the vote in March.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), are joining forces with the environmentalist Greens and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) to freeze out the upstart anti-migrant AfD which made impressive gains in last month's state polls.
If, as expected, the parties confirm the deal this Friday and Saturday at their respective conventions, Saxony-Anhalt in former communist East Germany will become the first German state to be governed by such a triple coalition.
"We have found that there aren't any insurmountable obstacles," CDU state Premier Reiner Haseloff said of the unique arrangement in Magdeburg, which would also see him retain his position.
The CDU-SPD-Green coalition was one of the few options for keeping the AfD out of government in Saxony-Anhalt where anti-immigrant feeling has been on the rise.
Islamophobia as political platform
The SPD's Burkhard Lischka described the three-party agreement to exclude the AfD as a "marriage of convenience"
The AfD has campaigned on a strong anti-Islam platform with its leadership openly calling for a ban on Islam's religious symbols.
"We are in favor of a ban on minarets, on muezzins and a ban on full veils," the AfD's deputy leader Beatrix von Storch, a member of the European Parliament, told the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" newspaper.
Such statements are not uncommon for the AfD. German's Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, has accused the AfD of using language similar to Hitler's Nazis.
The AfD won a record 24.2 percent of votes in elections on March 13 making it the second largest party in the state parliament with 24 seats.
The CDU led the polls with 29.8 percent of votes. The SPD won 10.6 percent, the left party Die Linke 16.3 percent and the Greens 5.2 percent.
jar/se (dpa, AP)