Germany's far-right achieves its first mayor elected at the polls

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Germany's far-right AfD party won a full-time mayoral municipal election for the first time on Sunday, a week after winning rural district administration for the first time at the polls. This local and regional progression of the ultra-right in direct elections, which will finally allow it to govern some territory despite the sanitary cordon applied to it by the other parties in the coalitions at the regional and federal level, is increasingly worrying the political class in Germany.

The far-right Hannes Loth, 42, triumphed in the second round of the elections in the small town of Raguhn-Jessnitz, in the land of Saxony-Anhalt, in eastern Germany. Loth defeated independent Nils Naumann, 31, in a snap election called because the previous mayor left office for health reasons. Loth garnered 51.13% of the votes, and Naumann, 48.87%, according to preliminary results.

“I am totally surprised and ecstatic and I want to thank all the voters,” said Loth, who has been a deputy in the regional Parliament since 2016 and will now leave that position for the mayoralty of Raguhn-Jessnitz, a town of 8,800 inhabitants. "Congratulations to Hannes Loth, Germany's first AfD mayor!" tweeted party co-leader Alice Weidel.

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This is how the formation celebrates it, although from 2018 to 2020 there was already an AfD mayor. It was in Burladingen, a town of 12,000 inhabitants in the southern land of Baden-Württemberg, but the aforementioned joined the party later, already being mayor. There have also been some far-right mayors in small towns, although they had other jobs and served on a voluntary basis. The case of Hannes Loth in Raguhn-Jessnitz is novel in that he was directly elected to a full-time position.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) has been feeling buoyant of late because federal polls give them between 19% and 20% support - on par with or ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democratic Party - and small victories in Raguhn-Jessnitz and a week ago in the Sonneberg district, in Thuringia, another eastern land, invigorate them more.

The Hannes Loth electoral campaign in Raguhn-Jessnitz was based on municipal issues, such as strengthening the fire brigade, nurseries and more citizen participation, without going into the issues that the party raises at higher levels: the anti-immigration position, the anti-climate discourse , opposition to the euro and understanding towards Russia. His opponent at the polls, the independent Nils Naumann, said he doesn't care if there is an AfD mayor. "I'm concerned about the facts and objectivity, not the party," said Naumann, who will continue to work within the municipal opposition.

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(FILES) This file photo taken on August 10, 2021 shows supporters standing under an umbrella with the party's logo as they attended a rally of far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party for the launch of the electoral campaign ahead of the September 26 , 2021 federal elections, in Schwerin, northern Germany. Long an anti-immigration party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) has scaled new heights in national polls as discontent with the government in Berlin and its climate agenda grows. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

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