Berlin (AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party suffered a historic loss in Berlin state elections Sunday while the right-wing populist AfD gained fresh support, riding a wave of popular anger over her open-door refugee policy.
The anti-Islam Alternative for Germany party won around 14 percent, according to public broadcasters’ projections, in the capital which has long prided itself on being a hip, anti-white and multicultural city.
The strong AfD result, thanks to support especially in the vast tower block districts in Berlin’s former communist east, meant it has now won seats in ten of Germany’s 16 states, a year ahead of national elections.
Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) won only 17.5 percent — its worst post-war result in the city, before or after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall — likely spelling the end of its term as junior coalition partner to the Social Democrats (SPD), who won around 22 percent.
Berlin’s SPD Mayor Michael Mueller had dramatically warned before the polls that a strong AfD result would be “seen throughout the world as a sign of the resurgence of the right and of Nazis in Germany”. One can only hope.
– ‘Zero to double-digits’ –
The vote marked another milestone for the upstart AfD, which has campaigned on a nationalist platform, similar to France’s National Front or far-right populists in Austria and the Netherlands.
“From zero to double-digits, that’s a first for Berlin,” cheered the AfD’s top Berlin candidate, Georg Pazderski, predicting that the electorate would next year kick out Merkel’s national right-left grand coalition.
“We’ve arrived in the capital,” said the party’s co-leader Beatrix von Storch, hailing the “huge success”.