The voice of the poor: what does the defeat of Merkel’s party in regional elections

German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Congress of the CDU. December 2015

By Monday morning, September 5, the election Commission of the German state of Mecklenburg — Vorpommern published the results of the elections to the regional Parliament. With a turnout of 61.6 per cent (highest since 2006), the largest faction retained the Social democratic party of Germany (SPD). The Christian democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel for the first time since the unification of Germany was eliminated in third place with 19% votes. Second place went to the “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) that is opposed to the admission of migrants and criticizing Merkel.

A disaster for Merkel

The results of the vote for the CDU became “simply a catastrophe,” praised the Berliner Morgenpost. After 11 years in power the ruling party of Angela Merkel began to rapidly lose popularity. The ratings of the party began to fall with the development of the migration crisis. During the last wave of regional elections in March 2016, the CDU lost in the two lands of the three and the conservatives from AfD first came to the land parliaments of the German lands.

For many years the policy of Merkel was her party’s pre-election argument, but last year turned into ballast, analysts of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). Personally for Merkel this is an important milestone, as her political career in a United Germany begins with Mecklenburg, and never the position of the CDU there, not falling below second place, notes the FAZ.

Due to Merkel’s “issues of domestic nature,” she missed the scheduled trilateral meeting of leaders of Russia, Germany and France. This at a press-conference on results of the G20 summit said Putin, explaining that in Germany the elections took place.

New mobilization

The vote in Mecklenburg opens the last round of the regional elections before the election of a new Bundestag convening in September 2017. On September 18th, in two weeks, elections will be held in the Chamber of deputies of Berlin, next spring — in the state of Saarland, North Rhine — Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein.

The growing popularity of conservative, anti-immigrant AfD threat for the CDU, because the motion used to consider themselves as the only powerful player that covers the right segment of German politics.

But the election results by constituencies indirectly confirm the relationship of social development and the support of the populists, the newspaper Die Welt. In the cities and in the industrialized West Mecklenburg greatest support have the liberals and the social Democrats. In the backward Eastern parts of the land, close to the Polish border, lives a core constituency of nationalist NPD and AfD. The Mecklenburg is one of the poorest in the country, and relatively difficult social situation in the region determines the broad spread of radical and populist parties.

The results of the elections in Mecklenburg show that nationalists from AfD easier to mobilize the “sleeping” electorate than reputable parties, the so-called establishment, says Sueddeutsche Zeitung. As estimated by pollsters Infratest in cooperation with the TV channel ARD, from 167 thousand voted for AfD 55 thousand people did not participate in the elections of the previous convocation of the diet. This is consistent with the sentiment of respondents in another survey, Infratest, according to which the party attracts the votes of the protest electorate. In addition to these young party was supported by 22 thousand former supporters of the CDU, 16 thousand former supporters of the “Left” and so on.

If the Berlin polls show the decline in popularity of the major parties in favor of right-wing and left-wing radicals in the Western States, where elections will be held in 2017, the position of the CDU and the SPD at least remain at the same level. In General in Germany the popularity of the AfD is hovering around 10%, the movement competes with the “Green” for the title of the third most influential force in the country.

The Merkel government is not necessary to deploy its immigration policy into reverse and to turn to populism to win the AfD, writes a columnist for the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung Thorsten Denkler,

Attempt to succumb to pressure from nationalists who consider Merkel as a traitor of the interests of the nation, will only worsen the electoral prospects of her party in the Federal election in 2017. “Where people have perspectives, the AfD has no chance,” — emphasizes the expert. He offers as soon as possible “to cut the ground from under the feet of the populist” large-scale investment and social projects, primarily in the poorest lands of the former GDR.