German voters in regional elections turned to the anti-Islam patriots in droves yesterday in a damning verdict on Angela Merkel’s open door border policy for millions of Muslim migrants from the Middle East and North Africa. In this weekend’s elections, she was humiliated in two out of three regions by the anti-Muslim immigration AfD – ‘Alternative for Germany’ – party.
UK Daily Mail Formed just three years ago, it has surged in popularity following Mrs Merkel’s decision to roll out the red carpet for more than a million migrants. Frauke Petry, who leads the Eurosceptic party, has suggested German border guards should open fire on illegal immigrants.
Analysts said the regional poll – in which Mrs Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats lost two out of three states – was a ‘worst case scenario’ for the embattled chancellor ahead of a general election next year.
The timing made it a virtual referendum on Germany’s refugee policy. It will also be seen as an indictment of the failure of Europe’s ruling classes to acknowledge the public’s fears about migration.
Mrs Merkel’s welcome for arrivals from Syria, other parts of the Middle East and North Africa, has caused chaos across the continent. Initially, the incomers were greeted by crowds of well-wishers.
But, faced with the sheer numbers, public opinion soured. And there was outrage when gangs of migrant men were involved in organised sex attacks on women in Cologne and other cities on new year’s eve.
One by one, EU states have thrown up border fences to stop the flow of arrivals – leading to the slow collapse of the Schengen passport-free zone. Austria is one of several countries to limit numbers in defiance of Brussels.
Early exit polls suggested AfD had won 23 per cent of the vote in the eastern state of Saxony Anhalt, finishing third. The party fares better in former Eastern Germany where scepticism of liberal refugee policies is stronger.
But its double-digit score in two other states, Rhineland and Baden-Württemberg, was potentially more significant. This suggests middle-class voters are deserting the Christian Democrats and other establishment parties.
AfD has seats in five regional parliaments and in the European Parliament. But its huge gains on ‘Super Sunday’ will reinforce fears that Germany is shifting to the right after decades of middle-of-the-road consensus politics following the Nazi period. The tabloid Bild newspaper ran the headline yesterday ‘AfD shocks Germany!’.
Last night Mrs Petry, who chairs AfD, said: ‘We are seeing above all in these elections that voters are turning away in large numbers from the big established parties and voting for our party.’ Tvictory came despite attacks by leading establishment politicians.