The nationalist Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has called to be included in regional coalition negotiations after making gains in elections at the weekend.
But Germany’s mainstream parties on Monday refused to consider any form of alliance with what they regard as a party of the far-Right.
“We are setting the agenda,” Alexander Gauland, the AfD leader, claimed after his party came second in regional elections in the states of Brandenburg and Saxony.
“In Brandenburg, we are the only real bourgeois opposition. I am confident that a bourgeois coalition will prevail, if not in the short term, then in the medium term.”
“There will be no cooperation with the AfD,” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party (CDU) said. “We fight for every voter, but the same time we are holding to our course of clear demarcation from the AfD.”
“Large sections of Saxony and Brandenburg have chosen a far-right party with the AfD,” Lars Klingebeil, party chairman of Mrs Merkel’s main coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), said.
“Our task at the SPD is now to see the AfD off. It is the laziest party in Germany and has nothing serious to offer.”
Markus Söder, the leader of Mrs Merkel’s Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), invoked his party’s most famous former leader as he rejected any alliance with the AfD.
“Franz Josef Strauss would have fought the AfD to the death, and that is what we will do," he said.
The AfD made significant gains in Sunday’s elections but its claim to a place at coalition talks was undermined after it failed to come first in either state.
In Saxony its challenge was held off by the CDU while the SPD made a last-minute comeback to hold first place in Brandenburg.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany, which accused the AfD of stirring up hatred against minorities in the run-up to the elections, on Monday warned against complacency over the result.
“It would be disastrous to sit back and go on as before just because the AfD didn’t come first,” Josef Schuster, the council’s president said.
The mainstream parties now face complicated talks to build coalitions in the states’ fragmented regional parliaments.
In Brandenburg the SPD is expected to pursue a three-way coalition with the Greens and the Left Party, while in Saxony the CDU is believed to be considering a coalition with the SPD and the Greens.
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