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German Far Right Loses Support Amid Resistance, Insurgent Party

(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s far-right AfD lost support nationwide as it confronted public resistance and an insurgent party that’s focused on criticizing immigration as well as the country’s support for Ukraine’s war effort.

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Alternative for Germany, which advocates the deportation of migrants and has flirted with exiting the European Union, slipped two percentage points to 16% since February, putting the party nearly even with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats at 15%, according to a national Allensbach poll published Thursday. The Christian Democratic-led opposition extended its lead, gaining two points to 34%.

The drop was steeper in the crucial eastern state of Thuringia, where the AfD lost five points to poll at 29%, according to an Infratest Dimap survey for broadcaster MDR Wednesday. The pollster had the party, which holds a lead ahead of state election in Sept. 1, at 34% in a July 2023 survey.

The eroding support shows the AfD grappling with the impact of former Left Party politician Sahra Wagenknecht, whose new grouping has made inroads with the AfD base with her criticism of migration policy and Germany’s shift away from Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine.

Wagenkecht’s party garnered 15% in its first appearance in the state poll. The nationwide poll had her at 7%.

The AfD has run second in most national polling, behind the opposition CDU and ahead of Scholz’s party. As Germany confronted the region’s energy crisis last year, the party’s support surged above 20%.

But Wagenknecht’s party and street demonstrations have blunted the rise, particularly after an investigative report in news outlet Correctiv showed that members had attended a gathering to discuss the deportation of millions of foreign-born people in the country, including German citizens.

The AfD is still the favorite to win the contest in Thuringia, a feat that would make coalition-building close to impossible, with all other parties refusing to commit to an alliance. The party is also ahead in two other eastern states set to hold ballots this year, Saxony and Brandenburg.

--With assistance from Slav Okov.

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