Voters speak

Merkel’s party loses big to anti-immigrant party in German state elections

Frauke Petry, chairwoman of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany delivers a speech on March 13, 2016. (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, was dealt a severe blow in the country’s state elections on Sunday. Some see it as a rebuke of her open-door policy for refugees.

While the CDU lost to more left-leaning parties in two out of three states, the big gains made by upstart anti-migrant party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) were the most striking: in one state, Saxony-Anhalt, they won 24.4% of the vote, coming in second behind the CDU, while gaining 12% in Rhineland-Palatinate and 15% in Baden-Württemberg. The party, originally founded in 2013 as an anti-Euro movement, campaigned largely on an anti-Merkel, anti-refugee platform and benefited from the exceptionally high voter turnout in this election.

The results will likely reignite the discussion over the electoral costs of Merkel’s refugee policy. Nevertheless, Julia Klöckner, who was seen as a potential successor to Merkel but broke with the party leadership in calling for an alternative answer to the refugee crisis, was defeated by the incumbent Social Democrat state premier in Rhineland-Palatinate. According to Der Spiegel, this shows that “things won’t get really dangerous for Merkel,” as questioning the Chancellor carries a political cost as well.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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