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Germany: AfD candidate leads mayoral race, but runoff needed

September 11, 2023

The candidate for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany fared far better than his rivals in the first round mayoral vote in Nordhausen. However, he must win a runoff against the incumbent to secure the post.

The town hall in Nordhausen, Germany. Archive image.
The fight for occupancy of Nordhausen's town hall will go to a runoff voteImage: Martin Schutt/dpa/picture alliance

At municipal elections in Nordhausen, in Thuringia state in eastern Germany, a hotspot for Alternative for Germany (AfD) support, the far-right mayoral candidate Jörg Prophet finished almost 20 percentage points clear of the five other candidates in Sunday's first round vote. 

However, his 42.1% support was insufficient for an outright victory in the first round. 

Jörg Prophet
AfD candidate Jörg Prophet comfortably led the 6-candidate field in the first roundImage: Silvio Dietzel/dpa/picture alliance

Prophet will therefore have to contest a runoff against the incumbent, an independent with no party affiliation named Kai Buchmann, who was second with 23.7% of the vote. 

Nordhausen is a city of around 42,000 in Thuringia. Turnout in Sunday's vote was put at 56.4%. 

Why is the vote important?

In a runoff, the question will become whether Buchmann can rally supporters from other candidates — and motivate them to turn out for a second time for their second choice — in order to keep the AfD out of the office. The runoff vote will be a simple winner-takes-all encounter.

Election poster for Kai Buchmann in Nordhausen
Independent incumbent Kai Buchmann came second in the first round with 23.7% of the voteImage: Martin Schutt/dpa/picture alliance

The vote was being watched closely in Germany as it was seen as a chance for the AfD to secure another local executive post in German politics.

An AfD candidate won a mayoral spot in Rahuhn-Jessnitz recently, and in Sonneberg, also in Thuringia, Robert Sesselmann secured a spot as a district administrator in June. 

The AfD has fared fairly strongly in the polls in recent months, coinciding with a difficult phase for the parties in government at present. 

msh/sri (AFP, dpa) 

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