Local elections are taking place in Thuringia on Sunday. For the AfD and the Wagenknecht party BSW, the elections are seen as an important test of sentiment before the state elections in around three months.

Around three months before the state elections in Thuringia, the Free State has entered a super election year. The people of the eastern German state will decide on local parliaments and top municipal offices on Sunday. Around 1.7 million citizens are called upon to vote in the local elections.

According to the Thuringian Interior Ministry, they decide, among other things, the composition of the district councils as well as city and local councils. Votes will also be held in 13 of 17 districts to fill district administrator positions. In June last year, the AfD won the party’s first district administrator position nationwide in the Thuringian district of Sonneberg.

New mayors will be elected on Sunday in the five independent cities of Erfurt, Jena, Gera, Suhl and Weimar as well as in the city of Eisenach. Numerous mayoral positions across the country are also being filled. A total of almost 7,500 seats will be allocated in the local parliaments.

The focus is likely to be primarily on the performance of the AfD, which is partly strongly anchored in the municipalities. The local elections are therefore also seen as a mood test for the state elections in Thuringia on September 1st. The Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) is also running in the local elections for the first time and is hoping to enter the state parliament in the fall. According to the State Office for Statistics, the BSW is sending several applicants into the race for the district and municipal council elections.

All Thuringians aged 16 and over are entitled to vote. A preliminary interim result is expected on Monday night. A final result will not be available until Monday at the earliest. If there is no majority, the necessary runoff elections will take place at the same time as the European elections on June 9th.

In 2018, the CDU became the strongest party in the Thuringian local elections. At that time, the Christian Democrats got 37.9 percent in the district council and mayoral elections and also became the strongest force in the mayoral elections in the district’s cities and municipalities. The governing parties Left, SPD and Greens, which currently govern without a parliamentary majority, suffered losses at the time.

The AfD got 10.2 percent in 2018. However, the state association under its right-winger Björn Höcke, which the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Thuringia classified as definitely right-wing extremist, is now much stronger. In the state elections in October 2019, the AfD became the second strongest force with more than 23 percent, and in the polls for the coming election the party was recently at around 30 percent.