Merkel’s Refugee Policy Blamed for State Election Defeat

Angela Merkel’s refugee policies were a prominent issue  in the campaign for the September 4 elections.Angela Merkel’s refugee policies were a prominent issue  in the campaign for the September 4 elections.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel received heavy criticism from her opponents as well as from within her own ranks. Her party, the Christian Democratic Union, stood at third place in state elections in her home state.

The CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, blamed the chancellor and her open-door policy on refugees for the shocking result in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Soder said that receiving fewer than 20% of the overall vote in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania should serve as a “wakeup call” with regard to her refugee policy, DPA reported.

Soder told the Monday morning edition of the regional daily newspaper “Nurnberger Nachrichten” that Merkel needed to adopt a hard line on migrants.

“It is no longer possible to ignore people’s views on this issue. Berlin needs to change tack,” Soder said.

Merkel’s CDU lost a great number of votes to the newly established “Alternative for Germany” party (AfD), which managed to rank second in the regional elections in the northeastern state.

Secretary-General of CSU Andreas Scheuer also joined the ranks of those demanding a tougher stance on refugees. He told the daily newspaper “Berliner Tagesspiegel” that the federal government in Berlin now had to take some tough decision after the devastating result at the polls.

“The CSU is pointing in the right direction. We need a cap on refugee numbers, expedited repatriation processes, an expansion of the list of nations deemed to be safe countries of origin, and better integration measures,” he said, adding later that the AfD had seized the opportunity to exploit Merkel’s dwindling support.

“We can’t simply give in and watch how a party built on attracting protest voters profits from the failures of the federal government in Berlin.”

In Berlin, CDU federal general secretary Peter Tauber, standing in for Merkel who is currently attending the G20 summit in China, said the result was “bitter” while stressing that it would not influence the prospect of Merkel contesting a fourth federal term next year.

There were no winners and losers in absolute terms at the elections in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. However, the vote served as a litmus test on opinions on the government’s current policy (especially on refugees) rather than only taking regional issues into account.

In addition to CDU’s bad results of only 19% of the vote, her federal government coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), also suffered a major setback. While the center-left SPD managed to garner a better-than-forecast 30.6% in Sunday’s election, it too lost several percent of its voter base to the AfD.

The AfD had targeted Merkel’s CDU and her coalition partner, the SPD, since her decision a year ago not to close Germany’s border to refugees arriving from war zones such as Syria and Iraq via Hungary and Austria.