German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats were beaten into third place by the anti-Muslim immigrant and anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in a north-eastern state election on Sunday, TV exit polls showed.
Reuters (h/t Susan K) In a stinging defeat for Merkel in her home district that could weaken her chances of a fourth term in next year’s federal elections, the upstart AfD took 21.9 percent of the vote behind the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in their first election in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern by campaigning hard against the chancellor’s policies on refugees, according to a projection by ARD TV at 1.15 p.m. ET.
“This isn’t pretty for us,” said Michael Grosse-Broemer, one of Merkel’s top deputies in parliament in Berlin in a ZDF TV interview. “Those who voted for the AfD were sending a message of protest.”
“This was a dark day for Merkel,” Thomas Jaeger, a political scientist at Cologne University, told Reuters. “Everyone knows that she lost this election. Her district in parliament is there, she campaigned there, and refugees are her issue.”
The election took place exactly a year after Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders to hundreds of thousands of refugees and the discontent in the state was palpable.