The anti-immigrant AFD pushed the Christian Democratic Union into third place in elections in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s home state.
The right wing “Alternative Fuer Deutschland” party (AFD) thrashed the ruling Christian Democratic Union party (CDU), putting them in third place in the regional elections held in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern on Sunday, according to exit polls.
According to projection by ARD TV, the ruling left wing SDP won 30.2%, down from 35.6% in 2011. AFD won 21.9%. CDU received 19%, the party’s worst result ever in the state, down from 23% in 2011.
The AFD is making gains by opposing Merkel’s open-door immigration policies and calling for a crackdown not only on Islamic extremism but also on public expressions of Islam. Last Thursday, a member of the Thuringian state parliament for the AFD entered parliament wearing a niqab as a protest against the face veil.
“This isn’t pretty for us,” Michael Grosse-Broemer, one of Merkel’s top parliamentary deputies in Berlin told ZDF TV. “Those who voted for the AFD were sending a message of protest.”
“This is a slap in the face for Merkel — not only in Berlin but also in her home state,” Frauke Petry, co-leader of the AFD, told the press. “The voters made a clear statement against Merkel’s disastrous immigration policies. This put her in her place.”
Fears about immigrants are rising in Germany and Merkel’s approval rating has tumbled to 45%.
Contributing to this feeling were reports that at least four women were sexually assaulted at the “Essen Original” city party on Friday night. Police have warned that the attacks may be “only the tip of the iceberg.” The Essen Original party runs from September 2-4 and hosts live music over six stages throughout the city.
Police have set up a confidential hotline for women who have been attacked to come forward. Those attacked reported being surrounded by groups of four to six men of North African appearance who danced around them and groped them.
This form of sexual assault called the “taharrush game” and has been traced to large-scale attacks that took place during the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt in 2011 and 2013.
Other groups are not waiting for the ballot box but are engaging in forms of direct action. A group affiliated with the European“Identitaire” movement occupied the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin at the end of August, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
The Identitaire movement calls for Europeans to defend their culture against perceived attack by those they consider invaders. The protesters who occupied the gate hung a banner from it with the “Identitaire” logo and slogan and were met with chants of “Nazis out” from spectators.