September 16, 2015 / 12:33 PM / 4 years ago

Germany's right-wing AfD rises in eastern Saxony amid refugee crisis

BERLIN (Reuters) - Support for Germany’s right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has strengthened in the eastern state of Saxony, reaching the level of Social Democrats (SPD) after an escalation in Europe’s refugee crisis, a poll showed on Wednesday.

German towns are struggling to cope with a record influx of refugees and AfD has attacked the government’s policy, calling it “asylum chaos”.

Saxony is a stronghold for the far-right National Democratic Party and neo-Nazis, as well as the domicile of AfD’s new leader Frauke Petry. The state’s capital Dresden is home to the anti-Islam PEGIDA movement which drew about 5,000 people in a march earlier this week.

The infratest dimap survey put the AfD, which entered the Saxony assembly in 2014 with 9.7 percent of the vote, on 13 percent, equal to the SPD which currently shares power in the state with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

The conservatives slipped 1.4 points to 38 percent from their result in the last year’s state vote.

The poll also showed that 60 percent of people in Saxony are worried about the influx of refugees, compared to 38 percent in the whole country.

Another poll from earlier this week showed national support for the AfD rising to 5.5 percent, its highest level in nearly four months.

Presenting its asylum policy last week, the AfD demanded border controls to stem the tide of refugees entering Germany from Hungary, via Austria.

Petry took over co-leadership of the party after the July ousting of AfD’s founder Bernd Lucke who has now set up a new party to focus on economic policy rather than immigration.

Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Jussi Rosendahl

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