German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) were bitten by the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) parties in a north-eastern state election on Sunday, TV exit polls showed.
The AfD, who has built its campaign on criticizing the chancellor's policies on refugees, won 21 percent of the vote in their first election in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state, according to an exit poll by the ARD TV network
The CDUís major coalition partner, the SPD won 30.5 percent of the vote. The CDU won 19 percent, showing the worst result ever in the state, the broadcaster said.
Such results could significantly weaken Merkelís chances of a fourth term as a Chancellor."This isn't pretty for us. Those who voted for the AfD were sending a message of protest,"
said Michael Grosse-Broemer, one of Merkel's top deputies in parliament in Berlin in a ZDF TV interview. "This is a slap in the face for Merkel - not only in Berlin but also in her home state. The voters made a clear statement against Merkel's disastrous immigration policies. This put her in her place,"
Frauke Petry, co-leader of the AfD, said.
Despite losing support, the SPD (26 seats) and the CDU (16) won enough seats to be able to continue their coalition in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, with the AfD as the second-largest bloc in the 71-seat state assembly with 18 seats.