There were signs today that at least a small percentage of Germans are regaining their sanity. In three of the country’s states the electorate is shifting to a small degree away from Angela Merkel’s party to the new, anti-immigration Alternatives fur Deutschland party.
From The Telegraph:
Angela Merkel was reeling from a series of election losses on Sunday that could be the most serious challenge she has faced to her power in Germany.
The vote, on what the German press called “Super Sunday”, was for regional parliaments in three of the country’s federal states.
Members of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) react to the first exit polls of the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate election in the city of Mainz, Germany, March 13, 2016. Members of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) react to the first exit polls in the city of Mainz Photo: Reuters
But the timing meant that it was seen as a virtual referendum on Mrs Merkel’s controversial “open-door” refugee policy.
The results could seriously undermine the German chancellor as she tries to persuade EU leaders to agree to a deal with Turkey to resolve the migrant crisis.
Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrat party (CDU) was beaten in its stronghold of Baden-Württemberg for the first time in more than 50 years, according to exit polls.
First exit polls of regional elections are seen on a video screen at the CDU party headquarter in Berlin, Germany, March 13, 2016First exit polls of regional elections are seen on a video screen at the CDU party headquarter in Berlin Photo: Reuters
In the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, it saw a lead of 10 per cent in the polls evaporate in just four months.
Most damaging of all for Mrs Merkel, the far-Right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party stormed to its best election results ever on a campaign that focused almost exclusively on an anti-migrant message.
Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, looks on during a Christian Democratic Party (CDU) local election campaign rally in Haigerloch, Germany, on Saturday, March. 12, 2016.Angela Merkel was reeling from a series of election losses on Sunday Photo: Bloomberg
In the East German state of Saxony-Anhalt, where the CDU managed to cling on to first place, celebrations were muted as the AfD secured a shock second place with 24 per cent of the vote.
The AfD won seats in all three state parliaments and emerged from the night as a political force Mrs Merkel can no longer afford to ignore.
Adams cartoon March 14Adams cartoon March 14
“We have fundamental problems in Germany that led to this election result,” Frauke Petry, the AfD leader said.
“We’re seeing above all that voters are turning away in large numbers from the big established parties and voting for us.
“They expect us finally to be the opposition that there hasn’t been.”
Ms Petry caused controversy ahead of the election by calling for police to shoot asylum seekers at the border.
“No question about it, none of the parties in the federal parliament has any reason to be happy about these election results,” Michael Grosse-Brömer, the parliamentary chief whip of Mrs Merkel’s CDU, said.
“They’re good results for a protest party with no real competence, the AfD — and that is very annoying.”
There was a considerable increase in turnout on previous state elections which commentators put down to voters coming out to punish Mrs Merkel over her refugee policy.
The CDU saw its share of the vote drop by a shocking 12 per cent in its former stronghold of Baden-Württemberg.
The result in Rhineland-Palatinate, where its share dropped by 3.4 per cent, was particularly disappointing for the CDU after it was widely expected to seize control from the Social Democrats (SPD).
The party saw a massive 10 per cent lead in the polls just last November disappear as voters turned against Mrs Merkel.
Julia Klöckner, the CDU leader in the state, publicly disowned the chancellor’s refugee policy but it wasn’t enough to rescue the campaign.
If there was any comfort for Mrs Merkel in the results, it was in the success of the rival Green Party in Baden-Württemberg.
While the Greens displaced her own CDU, they have been considerably more supportive of her refugee policy than her own party.
There were warnings ahead of the elections that a poor result for the CDU could see the party look to a new leader ahead of next year’s national elections.
But Mrs Merkel can point to the Greens’ success as evidence that her refugee policy is a vote-winner — just not with her party’s traditional voters.