Anti-Islamisation movement Pegida has performed better than expected in the first election it has ever contested. The group contested the mayoral election in its eastern stronghold of Dresden, finishing fourth with 9.6 per cent of the vote.
PEGIDA roses to fame late last year when it held a series of marches protesting the “Islamisation of Europe” which, at their height, attracted some 25,000 people. The marches have since dwindled, with many observers writing the group off after scandals among its leadership.
But yesterday’s results suggest a possible resurgence for the movement, with candidate Tatjana Festerling calling for a “renaissance” of German culture, criticising asylum seekers who leave “family and home because here there’s somewhere nice to live and you get dough from the state”.
Deutsche Welle reports that the top candidate in yesterday’s election was left-winger Eva-Maria Stange, who stood as a joint candidate for the Social Democrats, Greens and far-left Linke. She took 36 per cent, ahead of the Free Democrat candidate who won 31.7 per cent.
The result was an embarrassment for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who were defending the mayoralty and yet finished third with just 15.4 per cent. The party will now likely lose its only remaining major city.
With no candidate receiving a majority of votes, a second round election is due on 5 July in which the candidate with the most votes will become mayor.
Pegida’s rallies reached the peak of their popularity in January this year, with Breitbart London reporting from one of their marches. Up to 25,000 people joined the best-attended march, although the country’s establishment took a hard line against the group with Angela Merkel even announcing her intention to join a counter-march.
Major landmarks, including Dresden’s cathedral, also turned out their lights to signal their opposition to the marches.