Merkel is doomed

After a huge defeat in her home state, German chancellor has no chance of re-election in 2017

By Soeren Kern, Sept. 10, 2016]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered a major blow on September 4 when the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) surged ahead of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in elections in her home state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.

The AfD, led by Frauke Petry,  with 20.8 percent of the vote, came in second behind the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), with 30.6 percent. Merkel’s CDU came third, with 19% of the vote, the worst result it has ever had in Meck-Pomm, as the state is called for short.

Angela Merkel and Frauke Petry

The election was widely seen as a referendum on Merkel’s open-door migration policy and her decision to allow more than one million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East to enter Germany in 2015.

The migrant influx has resulted in a notable increase in crime in the country. The growing sense of insecurity has been exacerbated by a series of attacks this summer by Muslim migrants in which ten people were killed and dozens more were injured.

Merkel rejected any course correction on migration policy: “I am very unsatisfied with the outcome of the election. Obviously it has something to do with the refugee question. I think the decisions that were made were correct.”

She went on to blame German voters for failing to appreciate her government’s “problem-solving abilities”.

Launched in 2013, the AfD is now present in nine of Germany’s 16 state parliaments, making it the third-largest party in Germany. It is poised to enter the federal parliament for the first time in 2017.

The CDU debacle in Meck-Pomm yields two main conclusions: 1) Merkel’s hopes of winning — or even running — for a fourth term in general elections in 2017 are now in doubt; and 2) the AfD is a force to be reckoned with in German politics. It can longer be simply dismissed as a “fringe party.”

AfD leader Frauke Petry said: “This is a blow for Merkel, not only in Berlin but also in her home state. The voters made a clear statement against Merkel’s disastrous immigration policies. This put her in her place.”

Many of the AfD’s positions were once held, but later abandoned, by the Merkel’s CDU.

A September 1 poll showed Merkel’s popularity rating has plunged to 45%, a five-year low. More than half (51%) of those surveyed said it would “not be good” if Merkel ran for another term in 2017. She has been chancellor since November 2005.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.