Members of the anti-immigration “Alternative for Germany party (AfD) have been celebrating after making unprecedented gains in three German state elections.
Voters appear to have punished Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative, Christian Democrats (CDU) , rejecting her open-door refugee policy. Already represented in five of Germany’s 16 regional assemblies, the AfD succeeded in entering three more.
AfD party leader Frauke Petry was jubilant when addressing her supporters:
“It is the catastrophic policies of Chancellor Merkel which clearly opened people’s eyes. This is the only reason why we succeeded in entering all state parliaments with double -digit percentage figures. In Saxony-Anhalt, we even became instantly the second strongest party.”
The AfD grabbed 24.2 percent of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt but the CDU still managed to remain the largest party there.
The gains by the AfD,although significant still did not mean they won any of the states.
In Baden-Wuerttemberg the Greens for the first time became the strongest party there with around 31 percent of the vote. A former stronghold of the CDU support for the conservatives reached a historic low of 27 percent.
The Social Democrats (SPD) were in fact the biggest losers overall with support falling away across the board although they did hang on to Rhineland-Palatinate with 36 percent.
But with the CDU suffering defeats in two out of three of the states, Sunday’s elections are being seen as a serious rebuke for Merkel and the most pronounced protest vote seen so far.