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Anti-Immigrant AfD Party Makes Strong Gains in German Regional Elections

A populist party opposed to federal policy towards refugees and asylum-seekers was elected to regional parliaments in three German states on Sunday.

A populist party opposed to federal policy towards refugees and asylum-seekers was elected to regional parliaments in three German states on Sunday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union lost ground in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt to the populist anti-immigration Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) party.

The CDU remains the largest party in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt. AfD came second with more than 24 percent of the vote. The CDU’s national coalition partner, the centre-left SPD, came a distant fourth on just under 11 percent.

The SPD took over 36 percent of the vote in Rhineland-Palatinate, with the CDU taking just under 32 percent, a drop of around three percent. AfD came third, with over 12 percent of the vote, its worst result in the three states.

The CDU vote tumbled in Baden-Wuerttemberg in the west, where the party support dropped 11 percent, bringing it down to 27 percent. The Green Party capitalized on CDU losses, winning just over 30 percent of the vote. AfD took 15 percent of the votes cast. The SPD came fourth with just under 13 percent of the vote.

The elections for regional parliaments are seen as a test of support for Merkel’s refugee policy. The AfD is already represented in five of Germany’s 16 regional parliaments. The populist party campaigned on slogans such as “Secure the borders” and “End the asylum chaos.”

More than 12 million Germans were eligible to vote in the three states.

The voter turnout was much higher than during previous elections four years ago.

(Image: Election poster AfD Rhineland-Palatinate (cc) Flickr.com)

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