"The AfD is a party that is not bringing together society and not offering the appropriate solutions for the problems, but it is stirring up prejudice and polarizing.”
That’s from Angela Merkel who spoke last Saturday to Bild am Sonntag about the threat she believes the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party poses to the country.
Apparently, voters weren’t listening.
In what amounts to a sweeping indictment of the Iron Chancellor’s open-door refugee policies, Merkel’s conservatives lost in two of the three state elections on Sunday with AfD scoring significant wins at the ballot box.
“With three states in play on Sunday, support for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union declined in the southwestern region of Baden-Wuerttemberg -- the biggest prize -- in Saxony-Anhalt in the formerly communist east and in the western region of Rhineland-Palatinate compared with five years ago, according to exit polls for national broadcaster ARD,” Bloomberg reports, adding that “If confirmed, the results would mean the CDU failed in its bid to win back Baden-Wuerttemberg and take Rhineland-Palatinate
Some 20% of Germans live in the regions at stake. That means Berlin will need to seriously consider what the results say about voters’ mood before the next federal ballot in 18 months. Turnout, Bloomberg says, was higher than the last elections in 2011.
"The party’s surge could reduce the sway of Ms. Merkel’s conservatives in state legislatures and put renewed pressure on the chancellor to shut Germany’s doors to migrants—a step she has so far rejected despite about one million arrivals last year," WSJ wrote, earlier today.
AfD won't be able to do much from the state level when it comes to affecting the country's policy on refugees, but the groundswell of support for the nationalists is just the latest sign that Europeans have soured completely on the notion that the Mid-East's problems are something Europe should have to solve.
“Even those who vote for it don’t think the party has better policies or can contribute to the solution. It’s just about teaching ‘them up there’ a lesson," Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said.
He's probably correct. But a loss is a loss, and if Sunday's results are any indication of what's coming, Germany may be headed for rough political waters.