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Pressure grows on Germany's Scholz after election drubbing by the far right

Pressure is mounting on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz after the far-right AfD made substantial gains in the European Union election on Sunday despite a string of scandals.

The AfD secured 15.9% of the vote, according to preliminary results, beating Scholz's SPD (social democrats) and its two coalition partners in the current German government, the Greens and the FDP (free democrats).

The SPD lost support from the 2019 election, winning just 13.9% of the latest votes. The Green party's support weakened sharply from 20.5% in 2019 to 11.9% in 2024, while the FDP only registered a minor decline, securing 5.2% of votes in the latest poll.

Incremental gains meanwhile turned Germany's opposition, the CDU (Christian democrats), into the strongest party, with 23.7% of support.

The results deal the latest blow to Scholz's government, which has faced a string of crises from a struggling economy to budget issues and concerns about the popularity of the far right. At a national level, the AfD was last ahead of the SPD and in second place overall, according to a leading general election poll.

The AfD's success comes despite rising tensions in and around the party in recent weeks and months. Last month, it was kicked out of the right-wing Identity and Democracy (ID) alliance in the EU parliament, which includes France's Rassemblement National.

This came after Maximilian Krah, the AfD's lead candidate for the European Parliament was quoted as saying that not all members of the German Nazi regime's SS unit were criminals. Earlier this year, one of Krah's employees who was based in the European Parliament was arrested for allegedly spying on the parliament for China.  

Krah was previously a frontrunner for a position to represent AfD in the