Germany votes in three crucial regional elections today with the debate over the nation’s response to Europe’s migration crisis set to dominate voters’ concerns, agencies report. Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) need to win two of the three state polls to secure her position ahead of a key European summit later this month.
The Chancellor is seeking to seal a controversial deal with Turkey to stop the migrant flow when European leaders gather on 17-18 March. If the CDU fails to perform in today’s elections, Mrs Merkel will go into the meeting significantly weakened. Mrs Merkel’s party has been losing ground to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has capitalised on growing unease about how the country will cope with the migrant influx.
More than one million migrants and refugees crossed Germany’s border last year alone. Polls suggest the CDU will continue to be the biggest party in Saxony-Anhalt following today’s election. But it may face defeat to the Greens in Baden-Wuerttemberg, while the race is too close to call in Rhineland-Palatinate.
Asked how she was preparing for the results of Sunday’s elections, Mrs Merkel said: “I’m crossing my fingers.” The AfD already has representation in five of Germany’s 16 regional parliaments and the party looks set for a strong performance in Sunday’s polls.
It has been campaigning with slogans including “Secure the borders” and “Stop the asylum chaos”.