Merkel’s refugee policy under pressure after poll defeat to anti-migrant party

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under renewed pressure over her liberal refugee policy today after an upstart anti-migrant populist party defeated her party in her home state.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) clinched around 22% in its first bid for seats in the regional parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Vorpommern, results showed after most ballots had been counted from yesterday’s polls.

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) garnered just 19% in its worst ever score in the northeastern state, while the Social Democrats maintained top place with around 30%.

AfD’s lead candidate Leif-Erik Holm called it a “proud result for a young party” as the populists secured seats on the opposition benches of the ninth out of 16 regional parliaments.

Although the former Communist state is Germany’s poorest and least populous, it carries a symbolic meaning as it is home to Merkel’s constituency Stralsund.

Together with Berlin’s elections in two weeks, yesterday’s poll results pose a real test ahead of general elections next year, when Merkel’s decision exactly one year ago to let in tens of thousands of Syrian and other migrants is expected to be a key point of contention.

Conservative daily newspaper Die Welt commented: “Germany now has what has never existed since the end of the war: an extreme-right party”.

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