German Chancellor Angela Merkel under pressure after poll defeat to anti-migrant party

Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) garnered just 19 per cent in its worst ever score in the northeastern state, while the Social Democrats maintained top place with around 30 per cent.

By: AFP | Schwerin | Published: September 5, 2016 2:22 pm
germany, germany state polls, germany polls, angela merkel, german chancellor angela merkel, germany news, world news German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been in power since 2005 and is seeking a fourth term. (Reuters File Photo)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under renewed pressure over her liberal refugee policy on Monday after an upstart anti-migrant populist party handed her party a humiliating defeat in her home state. The xenophobic Alternative for Germany (AfD) clinched around 22 per cent in its first bid for seats in the regional parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Vorpommern, results showed after most ballots had been counted from Sunday polls.

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) garnered just 19 per cent in its worst ever score in the northeastern state, while the Social Democrats maintained top place with around 30 per cent.

AfD’s lead candidate Leif-Erik Holm called it a “proud result for a young party” as the populists secured seats on the opposition benches of the ninth out of 16 regional parliaments.

“The icing on the cake is that we have left Merkel’s CDU behind us… maybe that is the beginning of the end of Merkel’s time as chancellor,” he said.
Although the former Communist state is Germany’s poorest and least populous, it carries a symbolic meaning as it is home to Merkel’s constituency Stralsund.

Together with Berlin’s elections in two weeks, Sunday’s polls are a key test ahead of general elections next year, when Merkel’s decision exactly one year ago to let in tens of thousands of Syrian and other migrants is expected to be a key point of contention.

Although she won praise at first, the optimism has given way to fears over how Europe’s biggest economy will manage to integrate the one million people who arrived in 2015 alone.

Merkel’s decision has left her increasingly isolated in Europe, and exposed her to heavy criticism at home, including from her own conservative allies.

The CDU’s general secretary Peter Tauber said yesterday’s results were “bitter”, acknowledging that voters “wanted to send a signal of protest, as we had noticed in discussions about refugees”.

In the sprawling farming and coastal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where economic regeneration and jobs used to be residents’ top concerns, the issue of refugees and integration has become the deciding factor for one in two voters.

“There was only one issue, that is, and was, refugee policy,” said the CDU’s main candidate Lorenz Caffier. A pensioner and former teacher who declined to be named said he picked AfD because of the “question over asylum-seekers”.

“One million refugees have come here. There is money for them, but no money to bring pensions in the east to the same levels as those of the west,” he said, referring to the lower retirement payments that residents of former Communist states receive compared to those in the west.

Compared to other parts of Germany, the northeastern state hosts just a small proportion of migrants under a quota system based on states’ income and population — having taken in 25,000 asylum seekers last year.

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  1. C
    Sep 5, 2016 at 12:01 pm
    Germany is not any more safe and peaceful. Nothing wrong if somebody want to be compionate and helpful. I think every Nation should apply this compion to their own citizen first before expressing the same to the Islamic Jihadis. The same amount of money the world is spending could have created a safe heaven in Syria or Iraq and could have accommodated all these refugees there itself and could have avoided all the disaster today Europe is facing. The irony is when some Jihadis kill people the so called liberal media invent a new phrase the person is insane and Islam is such a peaceful religion. All I can say is the ignorance of these liberals will destroy the peace of their own country.
    1. R
      Sep 5, 2016 at 7:20 pm
      such a stupid brainless lady lt;br/gt;already potion of muslims is quite high in europe lt;br/gt;they get state benefits give bisrth to 3/4 kids and soon in few decades europe many countries will have muslims potions above 50%
      1. I
        Sep 5, 2016 at 11:47 am
        The MU-SLIM REFUGEES entering Germany will become SUI-CIDE BOM-BER in 10 years time. ............ Europe will become like AFPAK in 20 years time.