German Chancellor Angela Merkel was facing fresh pressure today after a regional election drubbing described as a “debacle” over her liberal refugee policy.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union was at the receiving end of voters’ anger, suffering defeats in two out of three states in regional elections — including its traditional stronghold Baden-Wuerttemberg.
The stinging result for the conservative CDU was accompanied by a surge in backing for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which had sparked outrage by suggesting police may have to shoot at migrants to stop them entering the country.
The elections were the biggest since Germany registered a record influx of refugees, and largely regarded as a referendum on Merkel’s decision to open the country’s doors to people fleeing war.
While they have no direct impact on her chancellorship, the regional polls in the southwestern states of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate as well as eastern state Saxony-Anhalt served as a key test ahead of general elections in 2017.