DW — Germany’s Social Democrats won Sunday’s nationally-watched regional poll with a little more than 30 percent support after what their leader and state premier Erwin Sellering called one of his party’s hardest ever campaigns. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s premier Erwin Sellering, has told Chancellor Merkel to change course on refugees. Her CDU was relegated to third place by the anti-migrant AfD.
Merkel’s conservatives, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its lead candidate Lorenz Caffier, who previously governed in Schwerin with the SPD, finished at 19 percent, in third place.
Result ‘bitter’: CDU’s Tauber
In Berlin, CDU federal general secretary Peter Tauber – standing in for Merkel who is at the G20 summit in China – said the result was “bitter” but stressed it would not influence the prospect of Merkel contesting a fourth federal term.
The AfD had targeted Merkel since her decision a year ago not to close Germany’s border to refugees arriving from war zones such as Syria via Hungary and Austria.
CDU candidate Caffier, who had campaigned against the burqa and dual citizenship, also demanded that Merkel change course.
Early prognoses for seat distribution in the Schwerin assembly gave the SPD at least 24 seats, leaving the CDU with 16, the AfD with 17, the opposition post-communist Left with 10 and the Greens just under the 5-percent threshold. 36 seats required for overall control.
Absent from parliament will be the neo-Nazi NPD, which previously had five seats. The pro-business liberal Free Democrats (FDP) also failed to clear the 5-percent threshold required to gain a seat in the assembly.
AfD veteran strategist and deputy chairman Alexander Gauland said Sunday’s result had great symbolic power ahead of next year’s federal election and would add impetus to Berlin city-state’s election on September 18.