Elections in Germany, Italy shift political landscape

The Alternative for Germany Party gained some key ground in elections over the weekend, but not enough to remove the Left Party from power.

The Alternative for Germany Party — led by Bjorn Hocke, at left — made key gains in the regional parliament of Thuringia Sunday. File Photo by Filip Singer

The Left Party won 31 percent of the vote Sunday while the AfD Party claimed 23 percent in in Thuringia in eastern Germany. The Left Party was once part of the Communist Party in East Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party finished third in voting, adding uncertainty to the makeup of the future state government.

The AfD Party in Thuringia is led by Bjorn Hocke, who made a name for himself by speaking against the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, calling it a “memorial of shame.” He wants a “reversal” of Germany’s culture of remembrance.

In central Italy, the League Party gained control for the first time in a half-century in a landslide victory. It won 58 percent of Sunday’s vote in Italy’s Umbria region. The two ruling parties, the Democratic Party and the 5StarMovement, earned 37 percent.

“We are writing history here tonight,” League leader Matteo Salvini said

The results could shake up Italy’s government just two months after the Democratic Party and 5StarMovement removed League from power. Umbria has long been a left-leaning stronghold ruled by communist, left or center-left parties.

Sunday marked the first time the Democratic Party and 5StarMovement teamed up with a joint candidate. Before the election, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the election was “not a vote on my government.”

ByNicholas Sakelaris