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Elections

German anti-euro party could enter regional parliament, poll says

Germany's anti-euro party, the AfD, has a good chance of winning its first regional parliamentary seat in elections in the state of Saxony, a recent poll says. But Chancellor Merkel's CDU seems unassailably in the lead.

The eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party (AfD) could win up to 7-percent in Sunday's elections in the eastern state of Saxony, a recent poll by public broadcaser ZDF predicted.

This would mean the party, founded only last year, would clear the 5-percent hurdle to enter a regional assembly for the first time ever.

The AfD, with lead canddate Frauke Petry (pictured above), has capitalized on voter concerns about asylum seekers in its campaign. The party only narrowly failed to enter the national parliament and the state assembly in Hesse last year. It did, however, manage to garner seven seats in the European Parliament at elections in May.

The right-wing, populist party seems to be drawing voters away from the extreme-right National Democratic Party (NPD), which means the latter will struggle to gain seats in Saxony's parliament for what would be a third term.

However, the ZDF poll showed that Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), the dominant force in Saxony, are likely to lead the pack by quite a distance on 40.5 percent, ahead of the Left Party with 19 percent and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) with 15 percent.

From 1949 until 1990, Saxony was part of the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR).

New kingmaker?

CDU Premier Stanislaw Tillich will nonetheless probably have to seek a new coalition partner after the election, with voter surveys suggesting his current ally, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), will not reach the 5-percent hurdle in a continuation of the party's current fall into relative political insignificance.

If this is confirmed by the elections, Tillich will be forced to turn to the SPD or possibly the environmentalist Greens to form a new government, though polls show the latter party also losing support in the region.

Altogether 3.4 million people are eligible to vote in the election on Sunday, choosing between 636 candidates to fill the 120-seat parliament in the regional capital, Dresden.

It being the last day of summer holidays, turnout is expected to be lower than the 52.2 percent at the state's last elections in 2009.

tj/se (dpa, AP)

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