Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservatives have suffered humiliating losses to the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party in three key state elections seen as a referendum on her “open door” refugee policy which allowed more than a million migrants to enter the country last year.
The real shock of Sunday night’s polling was the scale of AfD’s gains, which easily entered all three legislatures.
The three-year-old party (AfD) – which has campaigned against Mrs Merkel’s open-borders approach – won 15.1% of the vote in Baden-Wuerttemberg, official results showed.
It scored about 12.5% in Rhineland-Palatinate and 24% in Saxony-Anhalt, where it finished second, according to projections by ARD and ZDF television with most districts counted.
At AfD headquarters in Berlin where the results were being monitored last night the atmosphere was described as “ ecstatic”. A jubilant Frauke Petry, the party leader declared on television: “We are now a party for the whole of Germany.” Alexander Gauland, another leading AfD figure said: “Ms Merkel’s refugee policy has lost her party votes – we, by contrast, have made it clear from the start that we don’t want to take them in.”