Refugee Policy Cost Merkel Her Win in German State Election

Angela Merkel lost to far-right wing parties in her own constituency in Germany’s regional elections.

2 min read
German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Photo: AP)

A humiliating state election defeat for Angela Merkel in her own backyard on Sunday and another drubbing that looms in two weeks in Berlin are casting an ominous shadow over the Chancellor’s hopes of winning or even running for a fourth term in 2017.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) lost to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the upstart anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in her own constituency of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, on Sunday.

But the chancellor, whose towering approval ratings had long carried her party to victories at the polls over the last 11 years, has suddenly turned into a liability amid a frightening fall in support.

Conservatives, who feel they have a lock on power after ruling the country for 47 of the last 65 years, are blaming Merkel’s pro-refugee stance for their mounting losses.

The AfD latched onto the issue with a vengeance following the arrival of one million refugees in the last year and turned it into a battering ram against Merkel, who made a lonely decision a year ago to open the gates for people fleeing war and turmoil.

Discontent over Merkel’s welcoming of refugees has spread even to the rural northeastern corner of the country in a state that has the fewest number of foreigners in Germany. There are only 20,000 refugees there and just 65,004 of the state’s 1.6 million residents are foreigners.

A recent poll showed her approval rating fell from 67 percent to a five-year low of 45 percent. Her conservatives would win just 33 percent, down from 41 percent a year ago, according to the Infratest Dimap poll by ARD TV.That would cost 30 of the 310 MPs their jobs next year.

“The only issue voters care about right now is (Merkel’s) irresponsible migrant policies,” said Leif-Erik Holm, the leader of the AfD in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. “It’s not what people want. I think this is the beginning of the end of Merkel.”

It has suddenly become unclear whether Merkel will even get the chance to run for a fourth term.

There have been persistent rumours that CSU leader Horst Seehofer is considering running. He has demanded that Merkel put limits on the numbers of refugees that Germany is housing.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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