On Sunday, Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) candidate Robert Sesselmann won a second round of elections in Sonneberg, Thuringia. He has become the first AfD politician to hold a district leadership position. The win is considered a historic achievement for the party amid record support from the general population with polling consistently coming in between 19 and 20 percent in nationwide surveys.
Preliminary election results indicate that Sesslemann beat incumbent CDU candidate Jürgen Köpper with 52.8 percent of the vote versus 47.2 percent for Köpper.
Sesselmann also won despite a cross-party coalition of Free Democrats (FDP), Greens, the Social Democrats (SPD), and the Left party endorsing the CDU candidate and pushing their voters to go against the AfD. The media also warned of a "threat against democracy" should the AfD win the election.
The AfD celebrated the victory on Twitter saying, "Soneberg experienced its blue miracle: Robert Sesselmann is the first AfD district administrator in Germany. Congratulations and thanks to all supporters and voters - they all made history today!"
The win was described by the German newspaper Junge Freiheit as a "political earthquake," while the German political establishment views the victory as a threat.
Ricarda Lang, leader of the Green party, called the outcome "disturbing," and added, "Now at the latest is the time when - despite all the disputes on the matter - all democratic forces must defend democracy together."
Despite an AfD youth organization recently being classified as "Extremist Right" by Germany's Domestic Intelligence Services, voters seem to see the party as a breath of fresh air in a political landscape that is mostly dominated by leftist parties. With the party also climbing in the polls this is possibly not the last victory for AfD.
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