Germany’s anti-migrant populists made a strong showing at Sunday’s state polls, scoring ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party as voters punished the German leader over her liberal refugee policy.

 

Leif-Erik Holm

 

The xenophobic Alternative for Germany (AfD) clinched around 21 percent in its first bid for seats in the regional parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Vorpommern, results showed after most ballots were counted.

 

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union garnered just 19 percent in its worst ever score in the north-eastern state, while the Social Democrats maintained top place with around 30 percent.

 

AfD’s lead candidate Leif-Erik Holm called it a “proud result for a young party” as the populists secured seats on the opposition benches of the ninth out of 16 regional parliaments with Sunday’s showing.

 

“The icing on the cake is that we have left Merkel’s CDU behind us… maybe that is the beginning of the end of Merkel’s time as chancellor,” he said.

 

Together with Berlin’s elections in two weeks, Sunday’s polls are a key test ahead of general elections next year, when Merkel’s decision exactly a year ago to let in tens of thousands of Syrian and other migrants is expected to be a key point of contention.