The Latest: Exit polls show far-right gains in German states

International

In this Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 photo an election campaign poster of German Alternative for Germany, AfD, party for the Saxony state election reading: ‚The East stands up’ is displayed in the village Gruenwald near Bautzen, Germany. Two elections in eastern Germany’s states Brandenburg and Saxony on Sept. 1, 2019 look set to bring big gains for the far-right Alternative for Germany party and another blow to the traditional parties that form the national government. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on two state elections in Germany (all times local):

6:15 p.m.

Exit polls have a far-right party making big gains in two state elections in eastern Germany but show mainstream parties are likely to finish first.

Voters in Saxony, which borders Poland and the Czech Republic, and neighboring Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, elected new state legislatures on Sunday.

All eyes were on the performance of the far-right Alternative for Germany, which is strongest in the country’s ex-communist east.

Exit polls for ARD and ZDF television showed the party winning over 27% of the vote in Saxony. That is a few points behind Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right party, which governs the state.

In Brandenburg, the party was seen winning up to 24.5%, to finish a few points behind the governing center-left Social Democrats.

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8:05 a.m.

Two states in eastern Germany are holding elections that could bring big gains for a far-right party, further destabilize Chancellor Angela Merkel’s national government and highlight continuing cracks in German unity nearly 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Voters in Saxony, a region of around 4.1 million people bordering Poland and the Czech Republic, and neighboring Brandenburg, which has 2.5 million inhabitants and surrounds Berlin, elect new state legislatures on Sunday.

The formerly communist east has become a stronghold for the 6-year-old Alternative for Germany, or AfD, which is hoping for a possible first-place finish in at least one state. Saxony has been governed since German reunification by Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and Brandenburg by the center-left Social Democrats, its partners in the national government.

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