German chancellor Angela Merkel has suffered a dramatic setback as voters backed rightwing populist forces in regional elections seen as a referendum on her contentious refugee policies.
The anti-immigration Alternative für Deutschland party looked set to beat forecasts in all regions voting on Sunday — and score the biggest electoral success for the populist right since the rebirth of German democracy after the second world war. In Saxony-Anhalt it was on track to record the best regional result of any German populist rightwing party since 1945.
The domestic setback comes as Ms Merkel is struggling abroad, battling to secure EU partners’ support for a controversial deal with Turkey to staunch the migrant inflows. French president François Hollande, her most important EU ally, voiced concern at the weekend over a key aspect of the planned Turkey deal — visa liberalisation.
According to projections based on early results, the AfD won 23 per cent of the vote in the depressed eastern region of Saxony-Anhalt, where the radical right has long been active. But it also exceeded expectations in wealthy western Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, scoring 14 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively.
The AfD mobilised droves of former non-voters, boosting voter participation as high as 72 per cent, far above normal levels for regional polls — a sign of how deeply the refugee crisis is shaking Germany. However, the rightwing vote remains far lower than in some other EU states, notably France.
“Visa liberalization” for Turks is a Trojan Horse for allowing the Turks into the European Union; and since Turkey is one of the prime sources of the “migrant” crisis, it would spell the end of Europe as a “European” entity.
It seems the Trump phenomenon is not confined to the U.S.