Sunday’s election among 1.3 million voters in Germany’s northeastern state proceeded in rain “without incident,” according to its election commission.
The vote, in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s home state, was outweighed by an intense national gaze on the far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) party.
Pre-election surveys suggested the AfD was poised to exceed 20 percent at the polls with its anti-migrant campaign directed at Merkel’s decision last year not to close the country’s border to refugees arriving to Germany through Hungary and Austria.
Those surveys even suggested that the AfD could outpace the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which over the past 10 years has been in coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD).
Vote ‘local,’ says Sellering
State Premier Erwin Sellering (pictured above), whose regional SPD were forecast to stay top on 27 to 28 percent, urged voters in the Baltic Sea region – commonly known as “Meck-Pom” – to vote on local issues such as jobs creation in the wind turbine sector, decentralize integration of refugees and pension parity with Germany’s western regions.
Mecklenburg West Pomerania, with its regional capital Schwerin, was until German unification in 1990, part of communist East Germany. Merkel, since then, has had her federal electorate in Stralsund, one of the coastline’s touristic hanseatic ports.
Caffier wanted burqa ban
Her Christian Democratic (CDU) party’s leading candidate and current interior minister Lorenz Caffier voted Sunday in Neustrelitz, north of Berlin, after campaign on law and order and suggesting that Germany ban the burqa.
Another CDU candidate Frieder Weinhold acknowledged that the “migration policy has sparked a feeling of insecurity among the people.
Federal issues superimposed on region
Rostock-based political scientist Martin Koschakar said never before had the sprawling most rural region – German’s poorest and least populous – had federal issues so massively superimposed on it.”
Surveys had shown that the topic of refugees, immigration and integration had polarized voter behavior in all societal milieus, Koschkar said.
Pre-election surveys put the region’s post-communist Left party, with their social justice policies, between 13 and 15 percent. The Greens on “open society” campaign were likely to get 6 percent.
The neo-Nazi NPD as well as the FDP liberals had been forecast to fall short of the Schwerin assembly’s five-percent threshold.
Three regional elections in central and southern Germany in March this year left the xenophobic AfD on opposition benches in 8 of Germany’s 16 Bundesländer.
ipj/xx (dpa, AFP)