(Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Olaf Scholz made a rare foray deep into eastern Germany on Thursday as part of a push to check the rise of the far-right AfD ahead of three regional elections there in September.

Scholz has been trying to stitch together a broad pro-democracy alliance to push back against extremism and will hold discussions with workers and business leaders in Saxony. He’ll later host a townhall-style meeting with citizens in the state capital Dresden.

“Economic progress is possible in countries that stand together, that don’t allow themselves to be divided,” Scholz told reporters during a visit to aircraft conversion company Elbe Flugzeugwerke, one of Saxony’s biggest industrial employers.

“That’s why it’s very important that we contradict those who want to drive our nation apart,” he added. “We have a joint future, we are all the future in Germany.”

The Social Democrat chancellor’s trip comes with Germany’s political landscape in turmoil. Voters are growing increasingly frustrated with the three-party ruling coalition and its persistent public bickering on a range of issues. The stagnating economy and Russia’s war on Ukraine are adding to the pressure, amid a surge in support for radical parties that’s emboldening normally cautious business leaders to speak out.

The anti-immigrant AfD, or Alternative for Germany, is running second in national opinion polls at around 20%, behind only the main opposition conservatives. In the three eastern German states that are holding elections in September — Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg — it’s the number one party at about 30%.

Andrea Roemmele, a professor of communication in politics at the Hertie School in Berlin, said the ruling coalition has helped fuel the AfD’s rise with its failure “to give people confidence in the future.”

“Democracy always means the promise of a positive future and that is missing,” Roemmele told Bloomberg. “The many disputes have eroded trust in the government.”

Ahead of Scholz’s visit, Jordi Boto, the chief executive officer of Elbe Flugzeugwerke, said AfD policies including its anti-migrant stance and its flirtation with taking Germany out of the European Union are “clearly damaging business.”

German executives rarely wade directly into politics but have become more outspoken about extremism following the revelation of a secret meeting at which members of the AfD discussed a mass deportation scheme that echoed Nazi policies.

“It is weakening Germany as a business location and undermining its reputation in the world,” Boto said in an interview.

“The reactions of our international customers, partners, employees and shareholders are clear,” he added. “We would have to reconsider our location decision and think about shifting our activities to other global locations.”

A spokesperson for the AfD’s Saxony chapter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

With German employment at a record high, companies like EFW are already struggling to fill the more than 700,000 job vacancies nationwide.

Read More: German Joblessness Unexpectedly Declines at Start of Year

EFW is offering more in-house apprenticeships for young people in the region and keeping its long-time employees on the payroll with retraining programs. It’s also recruiting engineers and specialists from the Philippines, Malaysia and other countries.

“In Dresden alone, we have employees from over 30 different nations,” Boto said. “That in itself shows that the politics of the far-right won’t get you very far if you want to do business here.”

Other companies in the region are offering internal workshops to help their staff deal with fake news and extremist narratives.

Among those is watch manufacturer Nomos Glashuette, which Scholz will visit later on Thursday. It’s located in the Erzgebirge region, where support for the AfD is especially strong.

“As a company, we naturally steer clear of party politics” Judith Borowski, managing director at Nomos, told Bloomberg.

“But we don’t want the political spirit of the AfD find its way into our company and dominate everyday working life,” she added.

Nomos has teamed up with the Business Council for Democracy, which offers workshops at more than 140 companies nationwide. The training is focused on helping employees to improve their digital skills and to identify far-right narratives in social media.

“It helps our employees if they know how to deal with it themselves and how they can also protect their children from conspiracy theories, fake news or even hate messages,” Borowski said.

(Updates with Scholz comments starting in third paragraph)

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