In addition to the joy of the Cottbus SPD about the result, there was also a large portion of relief on Sunday evening. "I was very happy. Above all, it was a very important signal to the outside world," says Tobias Schick. The SPD candidate won 31.8 percent in the mayoral election in Cottbus and is the leader in the run-off election. Above all, he prevented what many people nationwide had feared: a mayor of the AfD. At least for now.
The AfD with its candidate Lars Schieske is also in the runoff with 26.4 percent. Well behind the SPD, but also ahead of the CDU (24.7 percent), which has governed the second largest city in Brandenburg since 2014. The AfD is satisfied with the result, even if they secretly hoped for more. 2019, in the local and state elections in Brandenburgthe AfD had become the strongest force in Cottbus, and in the federal elections it came in second behind the SPD.
With Schieske, the AfD sent a man into the race who tried to score points with the classic AfD topics during the election campaign: crime and immigration. "In order to cottbus Home stays" was his election slogan. Schieske is well connected in the right-wing scene in Brandenburg, which is considered to be particularly radical and violent. He has connections to the "Zukunft Heimat" association, a nationalist and anti-refugee association that is monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
In order to prevent the AfD from appointing Schieske as mayor for the first time, the other parties want to join forces for the runoff election and call for the SPD candidate to be elected. The first talks took place immediately after the election, says Schick. "Now I can say that the other candidates support me."
But that alone should not be the end of it. Tobias Schick, a trained track and field coach, knows that too. "I'm a hurdler. I did well in the heats. But I still have a lot of work to do before I can win," he says. It may be difficult for the AfD to fight against an alliance of several parties, but Schick knows another number in addition to his election result. And she worries him. 46.7 percent of those eligible to vote did not vote on Sunday. Here the AfD will try to catch votes.