Merkel under fire after poll defeat to anti-migrant party

The right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party clinched almost 21 percent in its first bid for seats in the regional parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Sunday.

Merkel under fire after poll defeat to anti-migrant party

World Bulletin / News Desk

German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under fresh fire over her open-door refugee policy Monday after her party suffered a humiliating defeat against an upstart anti-migrant populist party in her home state.

With her eyes on national elections next year, AfD co-chief Beatrix von Storch hailed the shock outcome as "the beginning of the end of the Merkel era", while Bild daily labelled the result another "slap across the face" for the chancellor.

The AfD's rise mirrors success enjoyed by other anti-immigration parties across Europe, with France's Front National (FN) riding high in the polls and a far-right populist eyeing the presidency in Austria in elections on October 2.

Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) won just 19 percent in its worst ever score in the ex-communist northeastern state, while the Social Democrats maintained top place with over 30 percent.

The state vote was held exactly one year after Merkel opened German borders to a mass influx of Syrian refugees and other migrants that would swell arrivals in Europe's top economy to one million asylum seekers in 2015.

While her welcoming stance initially won much praise, the mood has since considerably darkened as popular worries have grown about how to integrate the newcomers.

The AfD has capitalised on such fears, especially since a spate of sexual assaults blamed on North African men on New Year's Eve, and a series of bloody attacks this summer, some claimed by the Islamic State group.

With its latest win, the Islamophobic AfD, founded just over three years ago, is now represented in nine out of Germany's 16 regional parliaments, and hoping for more gains when the capital Berlin goes to the polls in two weeks.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Eylül 2016, 12:19