Testing Merkel on Germany Election

Testing Merkel on Germany ElectionTesting Merkel on Germany Election

Germans turned out in force to vote in three state elections on Sunday, with the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party looking to profit from popular angst about Chancellor Angela Merkel's welcome of more than a million migrants.

The election is the biggest test year of the German public response to the influx, totaling more than a million last year alone and showing no sign of halting, of refugees and other migrants from the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, Reuters reported.

Merkel, who says Germany is a rich enough country to host desperate people and has a moral obligation to shelter those in danger, has staked her reputation on her management of the unprecedented influx, which has come to define her leadership. Her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have been losing support to the AfD, which has profited from the growing unease.

A poor CDU performance would weaken Merkel just as she tries to push through a deal to resolve the crisis in EU negotiations with Turkey, the country from which most migrants depart by sea to reach the EU through Greece.

The AfD argues that Germans have been denied a choice over a policy that could define their country for generations, with Merkel ruling in a "grand coalition" that includes her party's Socialist rivals.

"There is only one path, a Merkel unity path, and people want an alternative, they want a real opposition and we want to take on that task," Andre Poggenburg, AfD leader in Saxony-Anhalt in former East Germany, told reporters after voting.