Wednesday 21 February 2018

Merkel comes out fighting after loss to far-Right party in regional vote

Humiliated: Angela Merkel. Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images
Humiliated: Angela Merkel. Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images

Madeline Chambers

Chancellor Angela Merkel hit back at critics of her open-door migrant policy yesterday after her CDU party was humiliated in a regional vote, urging all parties to fight the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) with facts.

In a combative speech to the Bundestag lower house of parliament, Merkel directly addressed the outcome of Sunday's election in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern where the AfD pushed her Christian Democrats into third place.

"All of us should realise the AfD is a challenge not only for the Christian Democrats ... but that they are a challenge for everyone in this house," she said, suggesting that the AfD's anti-immigration policies were a threat to the values of society.

In the weekend vote, the AfD, which has fed on fears about the influx of around a million migrants to Germany last year, stole voters from all parties and mobilised many people who had previously not voted. It is now represented in nine of Germany's 16 states and looks poised to enter the Bundestag next year.

Merkel achieved since the height of the migrant crisis a year ago.

"We have behind us a year full of decisions...to reduce the number of migrants," she said.

She added her government had taken steps to help local authorities pay for refugees, passed an integration law and accelerated repatriations of migrants denied asylum and boosted security.

"The situation today is much better than it was a year ago. But there is still much to do," she said.

"Change is not a bad thing...Germany will remain Germany with everything that we love and treasure," she said.

Irish Independent

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