Germany's Social Democrats on course to win in Hamburg vote

Projections in Germany show that the center-left Social Democrats have won the most votes in the Hamburg state election in a vote that was overshadowed by a racist massacre and political turmoil in Germany

According to projections, the Social Democrats received 38% of the vote, down from 45.6% in 2015, but still making them the winner. The Greens almost doubled their result to 25.5%, up from 12.3%. Hamburg has been governed for the last five years by a coalition made up of the center-left Social Democrats and the environmentalist Green party. Both parties campaigned on the issue of climate change.

The Christian Democrats received 11%, down from 15.9%.

According to the projections, AfD received between 4.7% and 4.8% of the vote, down from 6.1%, meaning the far-right party would be kicked out of the state parliament. The Free Democrats had 5%, which means they would just make it into parliament.

The Hamburg election comes at a time of political turmoil in Germany. On Wednesday, nine people were killed by an immigrant-hating gunman in the Frankfurt suburb of Hanau. The racist attack was Germany's third deadly far-right attack in a matter of months and came at a time when AfD has become the country's first political party in decades to establish itself as a significant force on the extreme right.

Many are accusing the party of producing a climate where right-wing extremism can flourish. The 7-year-old party now has members in all 16 state parliaments and is the largest opposition party nationally, though with less than 13% of the vote in the last election. If final election results show that the party did indeed not make it into the state assembly, Hamburg voters would be the first to kick AfD out of a German state parliament again.

Earlier this month, a controversial vote in Thuringia where the state governor was elected with the votes of AfD — and the Christian Democrats' voting with far-right colleagues — appalled left-leaning parties and many in the mainstream center-right camp. Merkel called the election of the Free Democrats' Thomas Kemmerich inexcusable. Partnering with the far-right has been a political taboo since after World War II.

After much turmoil, Kemmerich resigned, but the aftereffects are still being felt in national politics and the apparent defeat of the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats in Hamburg may be related to the chaotic performance of the two parties in Thuringia.

Official final results were expected Monday night.


AP journalist Frank Jordans contributed to this report.