The racist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party beat chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU into third place in a regional election last weekend.
The AfD won 21 percent, ahead of the CDU’s 19 percent, in the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania region. A higher turnout of 61 percent went mainly to the AfD, which was standing in the north eastern region for the first time.
The Labour-type SPD kept roughly the same number of votes, but its share fell from 36 percent to 31 percent. It runs the regional government and is part of Merkel’s coalition.
Support for radical left party Die Linke fell from 18 percent to 13 percent.
The fascist party NPD’s support halved to 3 percent, as the AfD hoovered up some of its support.
The AfD began as a mainly right wing Eurosceptic party. But it is increasingly focused on attacking refugees and Muslims and has organised street demonstrations.
Its latest success follows major gains for the AfD in other regional elections this year, with more expected in the capital Berlin on 25 September.
But around 6,000 anti-racists marched in Berlin last Saturday to oppose its rise. Die Linke MP Christine Buchholz hailed the demonstration, which was called by Aufstehen gegen Rassismus (Stand Up to Racism).
The AfD is the main beneficiary of the German right’s attempt to turn anger at the establishment against refugees.
Merkel has tried to hold together the European Union’s (EU) brutal response to the refugee crisis. It involves sending armed border guards to Greece and bribing Turkey’s government to take deported refugees. At the same time Merkel has had to defend accepting refugees into Germany last year.
This was partly because refugees were already pouring into Germany and thousands of Germans were welcoming them. Racists, including former Merkel allies, seized on the government’s hypocrisy.
This cemented a distrust of the political establishment, which has also presided over the Eurozone crisis and falling living standards.
Forces on the left have failed to shape this anger. The SPD and Greens have allied with the CDU and are seen as part of the establishment.
That’s less true of Die Linke, but some leading figures have not unequivocally stood with refugees and Muslims.
Die Linke co-leader Sahra Wagenknecht last month said that welcoming refugees was “harder than Merkel would have us believe”.
This feeds the racists instead of challenging them.
Wagenknecht has faced a backlash inside the party. Die Linke activists have been central to organising refugee solidarity and launching Aufstehen gegen Rassismus.
There is an urgent need for determined opposition before the AfD consolidates its gains like the fascist Front National has in France.
Sioux protests take on big oil
Protesters stepped up their action against a new oil pipeline in North Dakota last Saturday.
It threatens access to clean water for millions and has meant the destruction of Native American tribal burial grounds at the Standing Rock reservation.
Building company Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) has faced opposition from the Sioux, members from nearly 100 other tribes and other supporters.
Protesters clashed with developers last Saturday.
Sioux spokesperson Steve Sitting Bear said that six people were bitten by security dogs and 30 pepper-sprayed.
The company had excavated a two mile-long stretch of land which contains ancient burial sites.
Tribal chair David Archambault II said, “In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.”
The pipeline will make it easier to extract oil from the nearby Bakken region.
The environmental impact will be devastating.