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Angela Merkel’s refugee policy blamed for defeat in regional elections

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy has come under heavy criticism following her party’s defeat in regional elections.

Chancellor Angela Merkel
Chancellor Angela Merkel

Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Chancellor’s party came third place in state elections in her home state.

The anti-migrant “Alternative for Germany” party (AfD) trumped Chancellor Merkel’s CDU in her home state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Exit polls put the AfD on 21 percent, her CDU on 19. Current State Premier Erwin Sellering (SPD) is back with 30.5 percent.

The Christian Social Union (CSU) blamed Ms Merkel and her open-door policy on refugees for the shocking result in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, DW reported.

Bavarian finance minister Markus Söder who wants the Chancellor to adopt a hard line on migrants, said the poor results in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania should serve as a “wake-up call” with regards to her refugee policy.

“It is no longer possible to ignore people’s views on this issue. Berlin needs to change tack,” Söder told the regional daily newspaper “Nürnberger Nachrichten”.

The call for a tougher stance on refugees has also come from the Secretary-General of the CSU, Andreas Scheuer.

The federal government in Berlin should now take some tough decisions after the devastating result at the polls, he said.

“The CSU is pointing in the right direction. We need a cap on refugee numbers, expedited repatriation processes, an expansion of the list of nations deemed to be safe countries of origin, and better integration measures,” he said. “We can’t simply give in and watch how a party built on attracting protest voters profits from the failures of the federal government in Berlin.”

Stephan Mayer, the joint CDU and CSU parliamentary spokesperson on domestic affairs, told the “Huffington Post” that the election results amounted to “a catastrophe” that came as a reaction to Merkel’s refugee policy, DW reported.

“There is actually a lot that the federal government has already done since 2015 in terms of changing its course with regards to its refugee policy, but this news has apparently not reached many eligible voters so far,” Mr Mayer said.

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Ms Merkel’s decision not to not to close Germany’s border to refugees arriving from war zones such as Syria and Iraq has attracted strong opposition from the AfD and some of her close allies.

Just recently Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel accused the Chancellor of underestimating the strain of integrating the asylum seekers.

Ms Merkel has however continued to defend the refugee policy despite attacks.

Last year she used the famous phrase “we can do it” (wir schaffen das) to explain to Germans that they could handle the challenges involved in welcoming hundreds of thousands refugees.

Following these elections, the Chancellor will find it very difficult to defend her open-door refugee policy but she is most likely to continue doing so because she knows that on one hand refugees need protection while on the other, Germany needs them because of the country’s declining working age population.