German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party suffered a major setback in key state polls Sunday over her liberal refugee policy, while the right-wing populist AfD recorded a surge as it scooped up support from angry voters.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lost in two of three states in regional elections, and scored a historic low in its stronghold Baden-Wuerttemberg where it came in second place after the Greens, according to projections based on early results published by public broadcasters ARD and ZDF.
The populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which had sparked outrage by suggesting police may have to shoot at migrants to stop them entering the country, recorded double-digit support in the first elections they have stood for in all three regions.
The elections are the biggest since Germany registered a record influx of refugees, and are largely regarded as a referendum on Merkel’s decision to open the country’s doors to people fleeing war.
Bild daily called Sunday’s polls “a day of horror for Chancellor Merkel” as the stunning popularity of the upstart AfD was a clear punishment for her policy.
“The people who voted for us voted against this refugee policy,” said AfD deputy chairman Alexander Gauland.
“We have a very clear position on the refugee issue: we do not want to take in any refugees,” he declared.
AfD is projected to garner close to one in every four votes in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt — making it the second biggest political force there after the CDU.
In Baden-Wuerttemberg, the populists are credited with almost 15 percent, displacing Merkel’s CDU’s junior coalition partner Social Democratic Party (SPD) as the third biggest party.
In the southwestern region of Rhineland-Palatinate, AfD also came in third, although the SPD and the CDU had substantial leads.
Read more: Breitbart