Anti-migrant party beats Angela Merkel's CDU party on home turf

Poll is first of five regional votes to take place before Germany's national electon next September

HANGZHOU, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 4: German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens to Chinese President Xi Jinping speech during the opening ceremony of the G20 Leaders Summit on September 4, 2016 in Han
(Image credit: 2016 Getty Images)

German chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has been beaten into third place behind the Social Democrats (SPD) and right-wing, anti-migrant party Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) during regional elections in her constituency of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Projections following yesterday's election showed the SPD comfortably in front with 30.5 per cent of the vote, followed by AfD on 21 per cent and the CDU on 19 per cent.

BBC Berlin correspondent Jenny Hill described the result as "humiliating for Angela Merkel - not least because this was on home turf", calling the election a "significant test ahead of next year's general election".

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The election focused very strongly on Germany's current refugee policy, with AfD candidates openly questioning the Merkel government's "open door" approach to the migrant crisis.

The poll - the first of five regional votes due to take place before the national election next September - is largely symbolic, and "will not have a direct impact on the workings of the German government", says The Guardian.

However, AfD candidate Leif-Erik Holm said: "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."

Angela Merkel is currently in China for the G20 summit. The result comes as her approval ratings reportedly hit their lowest point in five years last week.

But what can happen in 12 short months has been shown in AfD's swift upward climb, notes Marcel Fürstenau at Deutsche Welle.

"The other parties must now swallow the bitter pill and treat them as a legitimate opposition party," he says. "Trying to cut them out completely is the wrong way forward. Exercising competent politics, which is more convincing over the long term, is a better way to stop the right-wing populists."

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