Bavarian voters punish Merkel allies

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The CDU has accused CSU members of pandering to far-right sentiments to prevent losing supporters to the anti-migrant AfD, in publicized infighting that has tarnished the image of the two parties.

Interior minister and CSU party leader Horst Seehofer, who has had prominent clashes with Merkel over immigration and law, attempted to bring a note of calm, telling reporters on October 15, "We will do our bit to ensure that the grand coalition can continue to do its work in a stable manner". But it lost the absolute majority it had held in Bavaria nearly without interruption since the 1960s.

"Populism has increased especially in the political middle, but that does not necessarily mean that people sympathetic to certain populist ideas support right-leaning positions and parties", said Christina Tillmann, director of Future of Democracy, a program of Bertelsmann Foundation.

The effects will be felt in Berlin, where some already question whether Merkel can serve out her full fourth term.

The shake-up in Bavaria could further escalate the internal contradictions of CSU, and its chairman Seehofer might be pulled down from party leader as well as interior minister, putting the federal government in a potential crisis, analysts said.

Robert Habeck, the Green Party leader, said: "The people of Bavaria have said things can not go on as they are".

"This created a political climate of polarisation from which the Greens and the AfD benefited the most, with their clear stances on immigration", Weigl said.

That proved to be a disastrous miscalculation, as Mr. Seehofer's embrace of xenophobic politics appears to have driven hundreds of thousands of CSU voters to the Green Party - which, despite its ecological focus, campaigned on a conservative-friendly platform devoted to fiscal responsibility and controlled immigration.

"We will change the whole federal republic", said Anton Hofreiter, a lawmaker for the Greens in Berlin, according to The New York Times. Its share of the vote in Bavaria, where it had been the main opposition since 1954, fell by more than half, from 20.6 per cent in the 2013 election to 9.7 per cent yesterday.

The anti-migration far-right Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) won 11 percent of votes, crossing the 5-percent hurdle and leaping into the state parliament.

The polls said the Greens were making major gains to secure second place with up to 19 percent of the vote. That prospect is welcomed by Alternative for Germany.

The two big mainstream parties that have dominated German politics since the Second World War can't seem to win, regardless of which political direction they move.

Voters delivered Merkel's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), its worst showing since 1954 in the prosperous southern state where it is used to commanding majorities.

The partners of Merkel the SPD, belonging to left-center, was in fifth place.

Some may have voted for the Greens with the notion that the party is less aggressive when it comes to refugee policy than other parties.

"Clear the path for new elections, clear the path for policy in our country".

Regional elections in Germany once attracted little attention elsewhere.

For long, media reports have shown that, like the other states of Germany, Bavarians anxious about a list of pressing matters, from affordable housing, rocketing rents, and childcare, not only on migrants.

In a sign that the election galvanized voters, turnout Sunday was at 73 percent, noticeably up from 64 percent five years ago. The AfD, which opposes all immigration and is widely seen as a party of racial intolerance, won 10.6 per cent - far short of the explosion of support it had predicted, but still an astonishing outcome in a state with full employment.

The party is expected to continue to govern even after Sunday's election.

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