By Lindsey DeLorie, International News Writer
On Sunday, September 4, election results in the Germany’s Mecklenburg-Vorpommern constituency, Angela Merkel’s home constituency, took everyone by surprise when her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) came in third. The CDU was behind the center left party the Social Democrats as well as the Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD), which is more right wing. With Mecklenburg-Vorpommern only making up 1.6 million of the 80.6 million in Germany these results won’t have great effects on the government, but it is definitely a symbolic loss which is leading to speculation surrounding the CDU and Chancellor Merkel. A political scientist at Berlin’s Free University, Gero Neugebauer told The Guardian, “If a lot of CDU members start seeing this defeat as Merkel’s fault, and members of parliament start seeing her as a danger for the party and their own jobs, the whole situation could escalate out of control”.
Many believe Merkel’s stance on the ongoing refugee crisis is what caused her party to lose favor in her own constituency. According to The Guardian only about 3.7 percent of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern populations is from a non-German background. While there have been no recent reports of high-profile crimes by asylum-seekers and crime has gone down in the state within the past year. There is still anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment throughout Germany.
According to BBC, Merkel’s approval ratings are currently at a 5 year low. Germany accepted around 1.1 million refugees into their borders in 2015 and Chancellor Merkel is having a hard time convincing the public this is something Germany can sustain such an influx. To have her party lose on her home turf is embarrassing for Merkel who has yet to announce if she will be running for reelection in 2017. Merkel has been Chancellor since 2005 and an election in 2017 would be a fourth term for her. Merkel believes the migrant policy to be the main factor for the loss in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. After the two Islamist motivated attacks in Bavaria in July, as well as the shooting rampage in Munich, Germans are wary of accepting migrants and asylum-seekers into their country. The AfD party, which came in second in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is a right wing party with continued support for anti-migrant and anti-Islam policies. According to the BBC the co-founder of the party, Bernd Lucke, left the party in 2015 stating it had become too xenophobic.
With the Berlin regional election on September 18th and the general election a year away these results may be the sign of many political changes in Germany.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 13th print edition.
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