Germany's far-right AfD loses support after synagogue shooting: report

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Support for Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has dropped in an opinion poll following an anti-Semitic shooting attack near a synagogue in Halle on Wednesday, broadcaster RTL/n-tv reported.

People gather around lit candles, placed outside the synagogue in Halle, Germany October 11, 2019, after two people were killed in a shooting. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

A survey of 2,500 Germans by research institute forsa showed 11% support for AfD on Thursday, down from 13% at the beginning of the week, RTL/n-tv reported on Saturday.

Prosecutors said a man accused of killing two people in the attack in Halle, eastern Germany, had confessed to the crime and to a far-right, anti-Semitic motivation.

The man, who had published a racist and anti-Semitic manifesto and live-streamed the shooting on Wednesday, had shot the two bystanders after failing to enter the synagogue.

Only his poor aim and the unreliability of his home-made firearms had saved from injury nine other people he fired upon during his half-hour rampage, prosecutors said on Friday.

According to another survey, by research group Emnid, support for AfD was flat at 15% while the Social Democrats (SPD), which are part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, dropped one percentage point to 14%, Bild am Sonntag reported.

The survey was conducted over Oct 2-9, while the shooting occurred on Oct.9.

That marks the first time since August that the AfD trumped SPD in an opinion poll, the paper said, while Merkel’s CDU gained one percentage point to 28% and the Greens remained unchanged at 21%.

The AfD has drawn on voters’ discontent with Merkel’s coalition and especially her 2015 decision to let in refugees, many from war zones in the Middle East and Africa.

In the Emnid polls, AfD has consistently remained above its 12.6% level of support in the 2017 general election and recently came close to becoming the largest party in two eastern German states.

According to a second forsa survey among people who said they do not back the far right, 90% view AfD as providing a spiritual breeding ground for right-wing extremist acts of violence through their appearance and their choice of words.

None of the supporters of AfD share this view or see any responsibility for the Halle events on the part of the party, RTL/n-tv reported.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Deepa Babington