Friday 27 April 2018

Merkel stands by migrants policy after poll mauling

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel

Justin Huggler in Berlin

Angela Merkel has vowed to stick to her controversial migrant policy - despite suffering heavy losses in state elections on Sunday.

The German chancellor's "open-door" refugee policy has been widely blamed for the damaging election results ,which saw Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrat party (CDU) defeated in two states and just manage to cling on in a third.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party stormed to its best-ever showing on an anti-migrant platform.

"We have to say that yesterday was a difficult day for the CDU," Mrs Merkel said yesterday.

"We have come a long way towards solving the refugee issue, but we still don't have a sustainable solution.

"I am fully convinced we need a European solution and that this solution needs time."

Earlier, a spokesman for the chancellor said her government would not change course.

"The German government will continue to pursue its refugee policy with all its might, both at home and abroad," Steffen Seibert said.

"The goal must be a common, sustainable European solution that leads to a tangible reduction of the number of refugees in all EU member states."

The election results have come at a damaging time for Mrs Merkel, as she tries to persuade EU leaders to agree to a deal with Turkey to resolve the migrant crisis.

In Germany, critics seized on the election result as evidence of the failure of her policy.

"The key reason for the losses is refugee policy, there's no getting round it," said Horst Seehofer, the Bavarian state prime minister and Mrs Merkel's bete noir over the issue. "Our answer to the electorate after such a result cannot be that everything goes on as it was."

There is speculation that Mrs Merkel's critics within the CDU may look for a new leader ahead of next year's national elections.

But so far, no alternative leader has emerged and Mrs Merkel's supporters in the party on Monday flocked to her defence. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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