Saturday

24th Feb 2018

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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?