Merkel suffers drubbing in Berlin vote
BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives suffered their second electoral blow in two weeks yesterday, with support for her Christian Democrats (CDU) plunging to a post-reunification low in a Berlin state vote due to unease with her migrant policy.
The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) polled 11.5%, gaining from a popular backlash over Merkel’s decision a year ago to keep borders open for refugees, an exit poll by public broadcaster ARD showed.
The result means the AfD will enter a 10th state assembly, out of 16 in total.
Merkel’s CDU polled 18%, down from 23.3% at the last election in 2011, with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) remaining the largest party, with 23%.
The SPD may now ditch the CDU from their coalition in the German capital.
The blow to the CDU came two weeks after they suffered heavy losses in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
The setbacks have raised questions about whether Merkel will stand for a fourth term next year, but her party has few good alternatives so she still looks like the most likely candidate.
Merkel – who was booed with “get lost” cries by right-wing activists at a campaign event with her party’s candidate Frank Henkel last week – had conceded that it was hard to reach the “protest voters” who had turned their backs on mainstream parties.
“And still we have to try, again and again, because I think we must not give up on people who are casting protest votes,” she had said on RBB Berlin public radio.
On Saturday, in another acknowledgement of the negative reaction to her migrant policy, she said she wanted to drop her “we can do it” rallying cry, much used last year to illustrate her welcoming stance on migrants. – Agencies