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From Cologne to Dresden, deciphering Germany's vote

September 29, 2017

What's behind the Alternative for Germany's ballot box success? From Cologne to Dresden to Berlin, DW's WorldLink examines the phenomena behind the major parties' decline and asks whether money protects from populism.

Deutschland Bundestagswahl | Merkel
Image: picture alliance/dpa/B. Roessler

WorldLink: Historic choices

Germany's election season was often described as "boring." Yet the result is likely to go down in history as a shock for Germany, with the three coalition partners losing a large share of support and the far-right Alternative for Germany entering the Bundestag for the first time. The regional variations were striking, especially between the east and west.

In a post-election analysis for DW's audio podcast WorldLink: The personal stories behind the headlines, hosts Neil King and Gabriel Borrud reflect on the results and their experiences on the campaign trail (listen to full show above, or here).

And what did a first-time voter make of the whole experience and its aftermath? WorldLink columnist Tamsin Walker reveals all.

A shock but not a surprise

An AfD member named Albert, who WorldLink spoke with during a pre-election road trip in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg, explained how a disconnect between politics and the people allowed for the rise of Pegida in 2014 and, ultimately, the enthusiasm surrounding the AfD.

WorldLink: A clash of identity in Germany

"I say if AfD had been in the Bundestag four years ago, Pegida would have never existed because people would have known my argument and opinion is in the parliament and I don't need to go on the streets," Albert told WorldLink.

But historical divides between former West and East Germany also played a role.

Saxony's Integration Minister Petra Köpping, a Social Democrat who spoke with WorldLink in Dresden before the election, described attending early Pegida rallies to try and figure out what the people there wanted.

"In addition to the concerns people had because immigration certainly had increased, there were also many personal sensitivities – people who felt hurt and humiliated, especially from the time after the peaceful revolution of 1989. I talked about integration for immigrants and refugees, how it's going to work in Saxony …. and then the people who had participated in these [Pegida] rallies came and said: 'Ms. Köpping, you have to integrate us first.'"

WorldLink: #identity

WorldLink also explored post-election voter settlement in the cosmopolitan neighborhood of Cologne Klettenberg, where about 3 percent of people voted AfD, and in the eastern Berlin neighborhood of Marzahn-Hellersdorf, a left wing stronghold where the AfD made significant gains.

To hear German elections special, click on the picture at the top of this article or click here.