“It’s the refugees, stupid.” That might as well have been the catchphrase in Sunday’s regional elections in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition suffered a crushing defeat. A budget surplus of 19 billion euros and the lowest unemployment rate in 25 years weren’t enough to keep the loyalty of voters in three states. The 1 million asylum seekers who reached Germany in 2015 — and the prospect of a similar number arriving this year — turned these elections into a referendum on Merkel’s refugee policy. The right-wing populist party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) burst into all three regional legislatures, winning not only a quarter of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt, a rustbelt state in the former East Germany, but also 15 percent in wealthy Baden-Wuerttemberg, according to preliminary results. The AfD was founded as an anti-euro party during the Greek debt crisis, but has since taken a hard line on refugees. The upstart party now holds seats in half of Germany’s 16 state assemblies.Full Article: German election bruises Merkel, but isn’t a knockout blow.
Mar 15 2016