German PEGIDA's stronghold city heads to elections

Dresden, the political stronghold city of PEGIDA, goes to polls on Sunday for municipal elections

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Voters in the German city of Dresden will cast ballots after the current conservative Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) mayor Helma Orosz's resignation for health reasons, ending her seven-year spell.

Days before the upcoming election, around 2,000 supporters attended a campaign rally for PEGIDA candidate Tatjana Festerling.

Festerling cultivates an "Ossie" (easterner) identity among her fellow residents of Dresden, and in her election campaign has complained of “the deadly poisoning which destroys the peoples of Europe is Islam, and against that, these people don't go out to demonstrate."

Weekly demonstrations of PEGIDA, short for "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West," have seen the participation of thousands in the city. Last week PEGIDA rallied up to 25,000 people in their latest demonstration.

Dutch far-right and anti-Islamic populist lawmaker Geert Wilders also came to Dresden in April to support Festerling.

Leading the race for the city is Eva-Maria Stange, who is standing as a joint candidate for the Social Democrats, Greens and far-left Linke. She told AFP she was "saddened" by recent events in her city.

"Dresden must remain a city open to the world. We need people from other countries," she said.

According to AFP the crowd fluttered dozens of German flags, while placards focused on a gamut of issues from the "lying press", to decrying Islam and the other political parties, or depicting Chancellor Angela Merkel dressed as "Fatima" in a headscarf and President Joachim Gauck as "Uncle Asylum," shown dressed in a turban.

PEGIDA is a German basis far-right, anti-Islam political organisation founded in Dresden in October 2014 which the group’s chair is vacant but administrative issues takes hold by vice-chair Rene Jahn.

PEGIDA also demonstrates in other countries too including Sweden, United Kingdom, France and Austria which is calling for more restrictive immigration rules, particularly for Muslims.

Despite insisting PEGIDA is not a neo-Nazi movement, some PEGIDA supporters have shown Nazi affiliation. Last month, according to Austrian police, six people were arrested for giving Nazi Salutes while attending a demonstration of 200 people in Ressel Park in the centre of Vienna.

TRTWorld and agencies