Voters punished Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in three German regional elections on Sunday, giving a thumbs-down to her open-door refugee policy and turning in droves to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).
The result is a big setback for Merkel, who has led Europe’s biggest economy for a decade, and could narrow her room for manoeuvre as she tries to convince her European Union partners to seal a deal with Turkey to stem the tide of migrants.
Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) lost ground in all three states – Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate in the west and Saxony-Anhalt in the east – which were together widely seen as offering a verdict on Merkel’s liberal migrant policy.
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