Published On: Tue, Sep 3rd, 2019

Germany elections: Merkel’s ‘insane’ policies for AfD success – ‘Common sense prevails!’ | World | News

“The success of our AfD allies shows clearly that the insane policies implemented by Angela Merkel are being heavily sanctioned by German voters,” MEP Nicolas Bay, a senior member of the eurosceptic, populist Rassemblement national (RN) party, said in a Twitter post. Marine Le Pen, for her part, said within hours of the result that the AfD’s big gains in the regional elections showed that “common sense is inexorably making progress in Europe”. Frau Merkel’s conservatives and her Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners bled support to the hard-right in the state elections, delivering a brutal double blow to her already uneasy ruling alliance.

Voters in Saxony, a region of some 4.1 million people bordering Poland and the Czech Republic, and neighbouring Brandenburg, a region of some 2½ million inhabitants surrounding Berlin, both elected new state legislatures. 

While Frau Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) remained the biggest party in Saxony, they saw their share of the vote fall by 7.4 points from the last election in 2014 to 32 percent, with the AfD coming second, an exit poll for broadcaster ARD showed. 

In Brandenburg, the left-leaning SPD clung on to first place in a state they have run since German reunification in 1990, winning 27½ percent of the vote – only slightly ahead of the AfD on 22.5 percent. 

AfD co-leader Joerg Meuthen said he was “highly satisfied” with the outcome, adding that “things can’t go much better than this”. 

Germany’s formerly communist east has become a stronghold for the AfD in recent years. 

The AfD has tapped into voter anger over illegal immigration and the planned closure of coal mines in the region, but also into disillusionment, particularly in rural areas, among those who feel left behind after almost three decades of German unity. 

Promises of equal living standards have not always borne fruit, and salaries in the east are still lower than those in the west, forcing scores of youths to leave to seek opportunities elsewhere. 

Saxony, in particular, has long been a breeding ground for far-right radicalisation.

It is the state where the anti-migrant group Pegida – Patriotic Europeans against the Islamification of the West – shot to prominence with weekly protests in Dresden that drew tens of thousands of people to the streets in 2015, as the refugee crisis in Europe reached its peak. 

Frau Merkel’s CDU and the SPD govern Germany together in an ill-tempered coalition, and both are weak in national polls. 

The setbacks for the ruling parties were not as major as feared, but could still precipitate the breakdown of the alliance led by Mrs Merkel, who has positioned herself as Europe’s strongwoman and whose early departure could further rattle a Brussels bloc already thrown off balance by Brexit. 

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