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Joerg Meuthen (R), leader of AfD, with Jörg Urban (C), AfD's main candidate, and Beatrix von Storch (L), parliamentarian of AfD, at an election night party in Saxony on Sept. 1. Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) came up short of victory in eastern state elections in Saxony and Brandenburg on Sunday, but still finished with its highest vote share ever, Politico reports.

Why it matters: The anti-immigrant, nationalist AfD is one of several far-right parties across Europe that have made significant gains at the expense of the political establishment, including in May's European Parliament elections. Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) remained the strongest party in Saxony with about 32%, while the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) held onto first place in Brandenburg with 27.2%, according to initial results.

  • Worth noting: The results are being viewed as a victory for AfD, but all parties have sworn not to work with the far right in a coalition government. That could be a difficult promise to keep, however, with vote share dispersed across a number of smaller parties.

The big picture: The state elections are being viewed as a crucial test for Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK), the hand-picked successor to Merkel. A series of missteps have Germans — including some in AKK's own party — questioning her leadership. Her CDU has become especially vulnerable with AfD chipping away at its popularity in recent elections.

Saxony result projections
  • CDU: 32.3% (-7.2% from 2014)
  • AfD: 27.8% (+18.1%)
  • The Left: 10.3% (-8.6%)
  • Greens: 8.6% (+2.9%)
  • SPD: 7.6% (-4.8%)
  • Free Democratic Party: 4.8% (+1%)
Brandenburg result projections
  • SPD: 27% (-4.9% from 2014)
  • AfD: 23.8% (+7.3%)
  • CDU: 15.5% (-7.3%)
  • The Left: 10.4% (-8%)
  • Greens: 10.2% (+4.3%)
  • Free Democratic Party: 4.7% (+3.2%)

Go deeper: More early election analysis from Politico

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Driving the news: Recent climate studies, such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 1.5-degree report, have pointed to the clear need for society to pursue strategies for driving carbon emissions into negative territory by the latter half of the century.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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Why it matters: The U.S. is entering a new stage in the pandemic where the public — vaccinated or not — will need to assess its own risk tolerance in shared spaces.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The rehabilitation of Wells Fargo

Expand chart
Data: Harris Poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Wells Fargo is no longer viewed as the least ethical big company in America. That's the big lesson from the most recent Axios Harris reputation poll.

Why it matters: After hitting extreme Axios Harris lows in 2017, Wells Fargo embarked upon a massive public rehabilitation campaign in 2018. It seems to have worked.