During the municipal elections in Nordhausen, located in Thuringia state in eastern Germany, which is known as a stronghold for Alternative for Germany (AfD) support, the far-right mayoral candidate Jörg Prophet achieved a substantial lead of nearly 20 percentage points over the other five candidates in the first-round vote held on Sunday.
However, despite his strong showing, Prophet’s support, at 42.1%, fell short of the majority required for an outright victory in the first round.
Prophet will therefore have to contest a runoff against the incumbent, an independent with no party affiliation named Kai Buchmann, who was second with 23.7% of the vote.
Nordhausen is a city of around 42,000 in Thuringia. Turnout in Sunday’s vote was put at 56.4%.
Why is the vote important?
In a runoff, the question will become whether Buchmann can rally supporters from other candidates — and motivate them to turn out for a second time for their second choice — in order to keep the AfD out of the office. The runoff vote will be a simple winner-takes-all encounter.
The vote was being watched closely in Germany as it was seen as a chance for the AfD to secure another local executive post in German politics.
An AfD candidate won a mayoral spot in Rahuhn-Jessnitz recently, and in Sonneberg, also in Thuringia, Robert Sesselmann secured a spot as a district administrator in June.
The AfD has fared fairly strongly in the polls in recent months, coinciding with a difficult phase for the parties in government at present.