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    A balloon of the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) party can be seen during an election party in Berlin on March 13, 2016.

    Germany's AfD Wants Real Changes in CDU After Merkel Quits as Party's Chair

    © AFP 2018 / John Macdougall
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    The German right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party would like to see real changes within Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party when she is no longer its leader, but changes will only be possible if Merkel's successor does not continue to implement her policies, AfD leader Alexander Gauland said on Monday.

    "We do not know who will come after Merkel and what policy will be continued after Merkel. There are some politicians in the CDU, I have named two — [the prime minister of German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin] Lashet and [the prime minister of the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Daniel] Guenther — if they really follow in Merkel's footsteps, it will be just a change in name. And the situation, in this case, will not change," Gauland told reporters.

    According to the AfD leader, his party wanted to see changes within Merkel's CDU because the AfD did not want to remain in opposition forever.

    Germany's party Alternative for Germany has attained all its election goals during the vote to the regional parliament (landtag) of Germany’s federal state of Hesse, AfD co-chair Joerg Meuthen said on Monday.

    "We have achieved all our electoral goals. We wanted to achieve a two-digit result, and we succeeded. This is more than a threefold increase in votes in our favor compared to the elections of 2013, when we had 4.1 percent. Now we have 13.1 percent," Meuthen told reporters.

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    The regional elections in Hesse took place on Sunday. The AfD official noted that he linked the success in Hesse with the extremely active, well-conducted and perfectly organized election campaign.

    Meuthen stressed that AfD members were elected to the landtags of all 16 federal states of Germany, as well as to the Bundestag and European Parliament.

    He also noted the continuing decline in the ratings of the two "people's parties" — the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

    According to local media, the AfD was the only party to bring up the issue of migration during the electoral campaign, despite it being the second-most discussed issue after education.

    A recent survey by ZDF showed that the crumbling infrastructure of schools and lack of teachers were the biggest concerns for voters in the well-off state of Hesse, with 40 percent indicating education as their top priority. Migration was important to 29 percent of respondents, followed by infrastructure and housing with 22 and 21 percent, respectively.

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    Alternative for Germany (AfD), Joerg Meuthen, Germany
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