The anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) surged ahead of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in elections in her home state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.
The election was widely seen as a referendum on Merkel’s open-door migration policy and her decision to allow more than one million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East to enter Germany in 2015.
Merkel rejected any course correction on migration policy: “I am very unsatisfied with the outcome of the election. Obviously it has something to do with the refugee question. I think the decisions that were made were correct.” She went on to blame German voters for failing to appreciate her government’s “problem-solving abilities”.
Many of the AfD’s positions were once held, but later abandoned, by the Merkel’s CDU.
A September 1 poll showed Merkel’s popularity rating has plunged to 45%, a five-year low. More than half (51%) of those surveyed said it would “not be good” if Merkel ran for another term in 2017.