A year after the embattled Chancellor unveiled her controversial open borders policy, Mrs Merkel’s CDU party was beaten into third place by the right wing Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party in her home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.Mrs Merkel’s CDU could muster only a pitiful 19.2 per cent of the vote compared to the victorious AfD’s 21 per cent, leading to growing scepticism about Merkel’s ability to cling onto power in Germany after her party also lost three elections to the AfD in March.
After the AfD win, the party leader Frauke Petry said: “We have made history here today.
“This is a slap in the face for Merkel – not only in Berlin but also in her home state. The voters made a clear statement against Merkel’s disastrous immigration policies. This put her in her place.”
Mrs Merkel’s migrant policy is solely to blame for her staggering defeat, according to the regional AfD leader, Leif-Erik Holm.
He said: “The only issue voters care about right now is (Merkel’s) irresponsible migrant policies. It’s not what people want. I think this is the beginning of the end of Merkel.”
Experts are predicting this humiliating result will ring the political death knell for Mrs Merkel, who could be culled by her own party if her presence is deemed too poisonous in the eyes of the electorate.Political scientist at Berlin’s Free University, Gero Neugebauer, said: “People will see this as the start of the twilight of the chancellor.
“If a lot of CDU members start seeing this defeat as Merkel’s fault, and members of parliament start seeing her as a danger for the party and their own jobs in next year, the whole situation could escalate out of control. If the AfD beats the CDU again in two weeks in Berlin, things could get ugly fast.”
Merkel may not get the chance to run for a fourth term in office as the leader of the CDU’s sister party, Bavarian-based CSU boss Horst Seehofer, is rumoured to be mounting a campaign to snatch the Chancellor’s job.
Seehofer has demanded Merkel puts a limit of the number of refugees entering Germany and his deputy, Andreas Scheuer, blasted: “We need a limit on refugees and quicker deportations.”
The figures may change when the final count is in but the result is seen as a clear disaster for Mrs Merkel.The result will further plunge her prospects of serving a fourth term in office into doubt when Germany stages its general election in the autumn of 2017.
The election took place exactly a year after Mrs Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders to thousands of refugees, which sparked wide spread criticism and calls for her to resign from her opposition.
A win for AfD in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern , a small coastal town in northeastern Germany with just 1.3million eligible voters, is embarrassing for the CDU leader – whose own electoral district is in the state.
Speaking after the results came in AfD deputy leader, Beatrix von Storch, blamed Ms Merkel’s ill-fated open-door policy saying it would ““destroy Germany and Europe”.
Describing the policy as “radical”, she went on: “This decision is unbelievable.
“People don’t want this. People don’t want radiclatsaiton of our politics. We have to close our borders and protect our borders. People do no accept this policy anymore and of course people in this regional election have voted against Angela Merkel.”
The Social Democratic Party of Germany were awarded the outright majority with 30 per cent of the vote, meaning it can still form a coalition with the CDU but could also go into power with the hard-left Die Linke party and the Greens.
The result is seen as Mrs Merkel’s fault alone she continues to ignore public opinion and insists that there will be no U-turn on her asylum policy.Michael Grosse-Broemer, one of Merkel’s top deputies in parliament in Berlin, said: “This isn’t pretty for us.
“Those who voted for the AfD were sending a message of protest.”
Delivering a closing campaign speech on Saturday in the state of 1.3 million voters north of Berlin , she said: “The vast majority of people are ready to help people in distress in the world. For that I am very thankful. We must maintain this stance.”
Hans-Herman Tiedje, a former policy adviser to legendary German chancellor Helmut Kohl, said: “The German people has not been asked once if it wants this demographic restructuring of our country.
“The good people of this world will maybe give her the Nobel Peace Prize–but domestically her politics are devastating.
“As to the poll – the AfD is indeed definitely not intellectual enrichment for our country, but it binds to itself voters who despair at Merkel’s policy.”
Before the results were announced, party candidate Leif-Erik Holm said: “We hope to become the strongest party in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.”
The anti-immigration party, founded two years after the last election in the state and adopted an anti-Islam policy in May 2016, is also expected to make gains nationwide as Germany goes to the polls today.
A new survey has revealed that if the national election were held next week, the AfD would win 12 per cent of the vote – making it the third largest party in Germany.
Meanwhile Mrs Merkel’s approval ratings have sunk to a five-year low of 45 per cent over the past year.Making a last minute campaign appearance in the district, she warned voters against the politics of “angst” offered by the AfD and instead look at the current coalition’s policies that have halved unemployment and boosted tourism.
She said: “It’s going to be a tight race, every vote counts. This election is about the future of this state.”
But she also defended her decision to welcome so many migrants into Germany – 1.1million last year – while denying that her decision cut funding for the German public.
On Saturday Mrs Merkel told Bild newspaper: “We did not reduce benefits for anyone in Germany as a result of the aid for refugees. In fact, we actually saw social improvements in some areas.”We took nothing away from people here. We are still achieving our big goal of maintaining and improving the quality of life in Germany.
“On that weekend (in 2015) it was not about opening the border for everyone, it was about not shutting it to those who had made their way to us from Hungary, on foot and in great need of help.”
Only two per cent of migrants arriving in Germany have gone to live in her own district.