2016-03-14 16:15:00

Anti-migrant party makes gains in German elections

(Vatican Radio) An anti-migration nationalist party, founded only three years ago, has made strong gains in three Germany state legislatures in ballots that were seen as a test for next year's general election. The success of the Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, came amid growing public anger over German chancellor Angela Merkel's welcoming policy towards refugees.   

Click below to hear the report from correspondent Stefan Bos

Supporters shouted their party leaders name as it became clear that the AfD had become a strong political force.

Official results showed the AfD received over 15 percent of the vote in the prosperous southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, nearly 13 percent in neighboring Rhineland-Palatinate, and the party was predicted to have won almost a quarter of the vote in relatively poor Saxony-Anhalt, in the ex-communist east.  

These were unfavorable results for both Chancellor Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union, or CDU party, and their partners in national government, the center-left Social Democrats. 



AfD party leader Frauke Petry has linked her party's strong showing to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's migrant policy as more than a million refugees arrived in the country last year alone. "The AfD is trying since three years to bring people back to the ballot boxes. And it is the catastrophic policy of Chancellor Merkel which apparently has opened the eyes of the people," she said.

"Only thanks to this it was possible to have double numbers in all states. In Saxony-Anhalt, we even managed become the second strongest party."

Yet not everyone was celebrating. Protests broke out outside a hotel in Stuttgart where the AfD victory party was held. Demonstrators shouting "you are no alternative", faced a heavy police presence.

Elsewhere the CDU's regional leader Julia Klockner, who some observers see as a possible successor of Chancellor Angela Merkel, acknowledged that these were challenging times for her party. "I met lots of citizens who told me that they don’t want to support the 'red-greens' as they are disappointed by the government now on the refugee crisis and that’s why they voted for AfD'," she told supporters.


However she noted: "When questioned about what solutions the AfD proposes, they said no solutions, but they wanted to give a warning. I know that's part of the freedom the voters have, but we have to know who is behind it."

And she sparked laud applause when saying: "That’s why I say it clearly that xenophobia, hate against foreigners and misanthropy won't ever have the support from Christian Democrats."

The elections were seen as a test for next year's ballot.

But they were also closely watched by other countries in Europe, which is dealing with the biggest refugee crisis since World War Two. Germany is expected to play a key role in reaching a deal with Turkey on how to halt the influx of migrants fleeing war and poverty.

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