Monday

25th Sep 2017

Anti-immigrant party beats Merkel in local elections

  • AfD's candidate Leif-Erik Holm (r) with party leaders, Alexander Gauland and Beatrix von Storch after the vote's results. (Photo: Reuters)

Voters in Germany’s regional election handed a heavy blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel and her welcoming refugee policy on Sunday (4 September).

Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) were beaten into third place by the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the north-eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern by taking 20.8 percent of the vote.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The CDU fell from 23 percent to 19 percent in their worst result in the state.

Both came in behind the Social Democrats (SPD), the region’s dominant political group, which received 30 percent of the votes, falling from 35 percent in 2011.

The neo-nazi NPD was driven from the regional assembly, its support dropping below the 5 percent threshold.

The election was dominated by the refugee issue, a year after Merkel's decision to let in asylum seekers making their way across Europe.

“This is a slap in the face for Merkel – not only in Berlin but also in her home state,” said Frauke Petry, joint-leader of the AfD.

“The voters made a clear statement against Merkel's disastrous immigration policies. This put her in her place.”

“We are writing history in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern,” Leif-Erik Holm, the AfD’s lead candidate in the state said. “Perhaps today is the beginning of the end of the chancellorship of Angela Merkel.”

AfD, founded in 2013, won 24 percent of the vote in Sachen Anhalt region in March, and is now represented in nine of Germany’s 16 regions. It is now gearing up for regional elections in Berlin in two weeks time.

It is particularly doing well in eastern German regions, which are generally poorer, more sceptical of mainstream parties and more critical of immigration, although Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has taken in only around 25,000 asylum seekers out of the million that arrived to the country last year.

However, AfD will not take power in the region, as other parties refuse to co-operate with it, the SPD is expected to maintain its coalition with the CDU.

Wake-up call?

Sunday’s election is also seen as a test for next year’s general election, as protesting voters are leaving the mainstream parties to vote for AfD.

Merkel’s support has sunk to a five-year low recently to 45 percent, down from 67 percent a year ago.

The AfD is polling at 12 percent on national level and it is expected to be the first far-right party to enter the Bundestag since 1945.

Peter Tauber, CDU general secretary, blamed the result on widespread “discontent and protest” at Merkel’s refugee policy.

Social Democrat leader Sigmar Gabriel said Germany's main political parties “must ask themselves how we can stop people from choosing the AfD”.

"The key is that we must bring about more security, not just domestic security or protection from crime and terrorism, but also social security," he said after the vote according to AFP.

Merkel has not yet announced if she will run for a fourth term in office next autumn due to pressure from the sister party of her CDU, the Bavarian CSU, according to Der Spiegel magazine.

Bavarian finance minister Markus Soeder said the results should serve as a "wake-up call" for Merkel on her refugee policy.

He told a regional newspaper that Merkel needed to adopt a hard line on migrants.

"It is no longer possible to ignore people's views on this issue. Berlin needs to change tack," he said.

The defeat comes at a crucial time for Merkel, as she needs to deal with the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, a fragile migration deal with Turkey, and an increasingly assertive Russia at Europe’s doorstep.

AfD’s win was hailed by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who tweeted: “What was impossible yesterday has become possible: the patriots of AfD sweep up the party of Ms Merkel. All my congratulations!”

EU dithering aggravated refugee crisis, Merkel says

If EU states, including Germany, had acted earlier and in concert to share burdens and protect external boundaries, the crisis would have been less severe, says the German chancellor.

Under-fire Merkel defends migration policy

The German chancellor sticks by her welcoming policy towards migrants, while a poll suggests more than 50 percent of Germans do not want her to stand for a fourth term in office.

May seeks EU grace period

Eagerly awaited Brexit speech was short on details, but May pledged to honour financial commitments while calling for a two-year transition deal after the UK left.

Analysis

Merkel-Macron: An EU motor in the making

Merkel's re-election is expected to revive the Franco-German EU motor, but the German leader and France's new ruler are still searching for a common vision.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel wins fourth term, exit polls say
  2. EU to hail 'aspirations' of former Soviet states
  3. UK says credit downgrade was wrong
  4. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  5. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  6. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  7. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  8. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel