Exclusive Right-Wing AfD Big Winners in State Elections, Chancellor Merkel's Conservatives the Big Losers

The right-wing, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party has powered itself into three state legislatures following Sunday elections, riding a wave of discontent over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handling of the refugee crisis. The chancellor’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, lost supporters in all three states – Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt – and will likely be able to name the state premier in just one of them. The elections were widely seen as a test of support for Ms. Merkel, who has staked her legacy on a decision last year to open Germany’s doors to more than 1 million refugees. The chancellor’s party remained the top party in Saxony-Anhalt, a poor eastern state, where the CDU and the SPD have governed together and whose coalition will likely remain together. But the two parties there will have to deal with the AfD, which won 24 percent of the votes counted. That support will give the party the second-largest number of seats in the state parliament. In the other two states, the populist AfD party easily surpassed the five-percent threshold of votes to be represented in German state and federal elections. It won 14.9 percent of the votes counted in Baden-Württemberg and 12.3 percent in Rhineland-Pfalz. The AfD is already represented in five of Germany’s 16 regional parliaments. It has campaigned aggressively on closing Germany’s border to asylum seekers. Ms. Merkel’s conservatives failed to remain the top party in Baden-Württemberg, one of their traditional strongholds, losing to the Green Party in a historical victory for the left-of-center, environmentalist party. For the first time, the Greens won more votes than any other party. They benefited from the popularity of their local party leader Winfried Kretschmann, who was already serving as the state’s premier in a coalition government. Going into the elections, the Christian Democrats had high hopes of overtaking the Social Democrats in Rhineland Palatinate. Julia Klöckner, one of the CDU’s rising stars, had been leading her Social Democrat rival Malu Dreyer, who is also the state’s premier, by as much as 10 percent in the polls. But the Social Democrats managed a narrow victory in the end, their only one in the three state elections.   Picture Source: AP