This man, whose eyes twinkle with mild mischief, is Tim Lochner. He owns a carpentry firm and yesterday he was elected Head Mayor of Pirna, a beautiful town southeast of Dresden. His election has made headlines across Germany, and even in some major American papers, because, although he himself has no party membership, he campaigned as the candidate of Alternative für Deutschland. He is the first ever AfD candidate to win such a post, and the third to win a top municipal office after Robert Sesselman was elected Landrat of Sonneberg in June, and Hannes Loth won the vote for Mayor of Raguhn-Jeßnitz in Sachsen-Anhalt in August.
Lochner’s election comes just over a week after our constitutional protectors declared the Saxon chapter of AfD to be “proven Right-wing extremists”. In November, the AfD in Thuringia and Sachsen-Anhalt received the same classifications. The leading political party of East Germany is therefore subject to antidemocratic surveillance in three of the five East German states, for fears that it and its programme of direct democracy may run run afoul of our democratic system.
For the first time, an AfD candidate has won a mayoral election in Germany. Tim Lochner won the second round of voting in Pirna, Saxony, with 38.5% of the vote against two competitors. … AfD Chairwoman Alice Weidel called it a “historic result for the AfD”.
The Saxon Office for the Protection of the Constitution recently categorised the state association of the AfD as “proven Right-wing extremists.” …
“We are dismayed by the election of a Mayor of a party that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution categorised as Right-wing extremist last week,” wrote the Saxon chapter of the Greens on Twitter.
Perhaps someday, when the Greens win an election, Die Zeit would consider printing critical comments from the AfD about it.
When asked after his election whether he would have a problem running for Mayor as an AfD candidate following this categorisation, Lochner said no. When asked about his earlier comments on the ‘Great Replacement’ – a conspiracy narrative that is widespread in Right-wing circles – Lochner emphasised that he had said this as a private individual.
Also the Berliner Morgenpost and Stern take Lochner to task for his ominous conspiracising, which is very odd when you consider how ecstatically the establishment press are accustomed to report on demographic change in other contexts. In May of this year, for example, Die Zeit wrote a very long and approving article about how mass migration is poised to utterly transform Germany. ‘They will be the powerful ones,’ said the headline, and the article went on to characterise the Federal Republic as a “country for immigrants” to “an extent that many people don’t seem to realise”. Perhaps it is merely their readers who don’t realise this, because their favoured newspapers are so busy railing against population replacement as some unusual Right-wing fantasy. Die Zeit proceeded to tell its naïve readership that 25% of those presently living in Germany, and fully 40% of children, are either immigrants or the direct descendants of them. It certainly sounds like some kind of replacement is happening here. Lochner’s only sin would seem to be that he is not very happy about it.
Lochner’s victory came in a second round of voting against candidates of the CDU and the Freie Wähler (‘Free Voters’), a Right-leaning liberal party. The SPD, Greens and the Left withdrew to consolidate votes behind Kathrin Dollinger-Knuth of the CDU, but even this grand voting coalition could hardly propel the awkwardly named Dollinger-Knuth above 31%. The Freie Wähler are now mad that the CDU did not withdraw Dollinger-Knuth to concentrate support for their candidate:
Following the election of… candidate Tim Lochner… Saxony’s Free Voters have sharply criticised the CDU. The CDU failed to back the Free Voters’ candidate, who came second after the first round of voting, complained Thomas Weidinger, head of the Free Voters in Saxony. “Instead, by running the CDU candidate again, they knowingly accepted the risk of playing the stooge for the AfD.”
The CDU, on the other hand, are mad that the Freie Wähler did not withdraw to concentrate support for their candidate:
The defeated CDU candidate Kathrin Dollinger-Knuth addressed her supporters on Sunday evening… “Although we rallied almost all forces behind our political offer, the voters decided otherwise. Unfortunately, the Freie Wähler decided to go it alone and thus paved the way for an AfD victory,” she said.
As the Süddeutsche Zeitung explains, the only way to defeat the AfD in eastern elections like these is for all other political parties to line up behind a single rival. The CDU and the Freie Wähler therefore share the guilt for not conspiring to subvert the preferences of Pirna voters even further and allowing Lochner to slip through. Apparently, the idea that one might compete for the support of voters by fielding positive political programmes that people actually find appealing has not yet occurred to the SZ. Nor has it yet considered whether the AfD is doing so well because it’s the only party that has chosen to pursue this bold and utterly original strategy.
A lot of people are very angry at the election of this mild-mannered carpenter. The Swiss meteorologist and media critic Jörg Kachelmann has demanded that Germany “be united against the fascist pack”, because fascism is when people you don’t like win mayoral elections in towns you don’t live in.
The Greens are also having a hyperventilation. They believe “we must now do everything we can to strengthen our coexistence and restore trust in our democracy”, presumably via pursuing better strategies of triangulation to more effectively subvert the preferences of voters in the future.
The SPD believes the AfD is bent on destroying democracy with its underhanded and devious strategy of fielding candidates in municipal elections:
“The AfD is challenging our democracy in many ways. At its core, it was always about destroying it,” Katja Mast, First Parliamentary Secretary of the SPD Bundestag faction, told t-online. Part of the AfD’s strategy is to “seize town halls and district offices” and appoint mayors. “Unfortunately, it has now achieved this for the first time in Pirna.”
The Left worry that Lochner’s election will introduce an environment of “social coldness” to Pirna, whatever that means. One of their politicians has further declared that “Democracy is on fire”.
These are well-balanced people, they are not crazy at all.