Voters in a state in north-eastern Germany are going to the polls, in what is being seen as a serious challenge for Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The anti-migrant and anti-Islam Alternative fuer Deutschland (AFD) could perform better than Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.
Why is this significant?
The state election is being seen as a test of Merkel’s migrant and refugee policies.
Her parliamentary constituency is in the region.
If the anti-immigration AFD does do better than her CDU, Merkel will go into national elections next year in a weaker position.
The national poll is expected in September 2017.
Sunday’s vote is the first of five state votes due before then. The next is in Berlin on 18 September.
Mecklenburg has been run for a decade by the parties that currently govern Germany.
The centre-left Social Democrats lead the regional government, with Merkel’s Christian Democrats as their junior partner.
It is also currently the only state where the far-right National Democratic Party is represented in a state legislature.
The German Parliament’s upper house is trying to ban the party.
Polls suggest it might be wiped out on Sunday as some supporters switch to the AFD.
How likely is the AFD to form a government in the state?
All the other parties involved have ruled out the possibility of forming a governing coalition with the AFD.
- 1.33 million – voters called to the polls
- 5 – duration in years of state parliament or Landtag
- 10 – years of SPD/CDU coalition to date
- 28 – % of SPD lead in one poll
- 23 – % of AFD support in poll
- 20 – % of CDU support in poll
What they are saying
“I hope that we will become the strongest party. We hear many signals from many families and businesses who say; ‘yes, yes, most of us are voting for the AFD.’ I am hoping for a result well above 20%. We may even be the strongest party,” – AFD main candidate Leif-Erik Holm.
“I always said: do not give your vote away! Because they are the ones that do not want to work with us, they are the ones that are fuelling frustration and protest. No one should give their vote away to them,” – Erwin Sellering, SDP Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.