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Not Looking Good For Merkel
Preliminary results from the New York Times:
BERLIN — An upstart far-right party campaigning on an anti-immigrant platform made strong gains in regional balloting across Germany on Sunday, while Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives suffered losses in two western states, initial projections showed.
The vote was widely viewed as a test of Ms. Merkel’s welcoming policy toward refugees. If the chancellor’s center-right party fails to oust sitting governors in the western states of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate that could weaken her days before she heads to Brussels to complete a deal with Turkey to stop the flow of migrants into Europe.
Final results were not expected until early Monday, but initial projections based on exit polls by the polling group Infratest dimap for the public broadcaster ARD indicated that the chancellor’s Christian Democrats would not garner enough votes to take control of either of the western states.
Although Ms. Merkel’s party appeared poised to emerge as the strongest force in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, it may prove difficult for the party to form a government there, given the strong showing of the far-right party Alternative for Germany. That party appeared likely to emerge as the second-place party, capturing more than 20 percent of the vote after galvanizing voters through its campaign to protect German’s national identity as the number of migrants increases.
The chancellor has maintained her calm and continued to insist that history will bear out the wisdom of her decision to take in hundreds of thousands of refugees at a time when Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is struggling to find enough skilled workers to fill jobs. Asked at a campaign rally on Saturday how she was preparing for Sunday’s results, the chancellor said she was “crossing her fingers.”
Voter turnout was high among the 12.7 million Germans eligible to vote on Sunday. They account for only about a fifth of the country’s overall electorate, but the balloting was the largest to take place before the next general election, in 2017. Heading into the vote, experts predicted that the outcome would indicate the direction the country was going and serve as an evaluation of the chancellor’s policies.