Far right Freie Wähler leader Hubert Aiwanger

The right and far right are celebrating after key regional elections in Germany last weekend.  Voters punished all three parties in the centre left led coalition national government—the Labour-type SPD, the Greens and FDP, the pro-business liberals. The left party Die Linke was wiped out.  

A quarter of Germany’s voters were eligible to vote in regional elections in Hesse and Bavaria. In both, the conservative CDU/CSU, right wing populists, and the AfD—which includes Nazis—grew from anger at Germany’s growing economic and social crisis.

In Hesse, the AfD increased its vote to grab 18 percent of the vote—making it the likely third biggest party. It means the far right has now broken out of its strongholds in the east. In Bavaria, which the conservative CSU has run continuously since 1946, the party suffered its worst results for generations. The chief beneficiary was the right wing populist Freie Wahler party.  

The recently formed party took some 15 percent of the vote, appealing to those radicalising to the right, but fearful of the AfD’s Nazism. The governing SPD is down to a catastrophic 8 percent. The German economy is plummeting, driven in part by the huge surge in energy costs that followed the war in Ukraine. 

But the issue of immigration has been a lightning rod for the right and far right. All the main parties, and the mainstream media, treat refugees as a threat which must be managed. That has created a climate in which racists can flourish.  

Unions demonstrate against Italian government 

Some 200,000 people took to the streets of Rome to protest against the fascist-led Italian government last Saturday. The CGIL union federation called the first major national demonstration since Giorgia Meloni came to office.

People filled Piazza San Giovanni from a range of organisations to back the union’s protest. The government is attempting to push through administrative devolution of powers to Italian regions. This is a key long-term demand of one of the coalition members, the far right League party.

Defending the constitution was the demonstration’s official demand. But in practice everything from healthcare, wage rises and education, to job security and the war in Ukraine were covered.

The Italian media focused on a tiny minority using sexist chants about Meloni. But there were far more repeated chants of “strike, strike, strike” filling the square. CGIL leader Maurizio Landini said “he is not excluding anything” in resisting the government.

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