The populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) has become the most popular party in eastern Germany, according to polls, as new data shows Germans becoming more critical of mass migration.
A new poll conducted by polling firm Infratest dimap shows the anti-mass migration AfD passing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) for the first time in the party’s history, scoring 27 percent compared to 23 percent for the CDU.
The results for the western half of the country highlight the contuining divide between the two halves of the country, separated for decades during the Cold War, with the CDU still in first place, followed by the leftist Social Democrats — who are far less popular in the east.
The polls come along with other data collected by Infratest dimap which shows a whopping 83 percent of Germans across the country feel the government has done poor job deporting bogus asylum seekers, while 69 percent say the government has handled migrant crime and integration somewhat or very poorly, Die Welt reports.
While mass migration has been a major issue since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, the recent murder of Daniel Hillig — allegedly by two asylum seekers — and the subsequent protests in the east German city of Chemnitz have brought the issue back into the spotlight.
Some, like Chancellor Merkel, have largely condemned the protests, which have seen thousands take to the streets, while others have expressed empathy or even sympathy with residents of the city.
The most notable politician to express sympathy for the Chemnitz protestors within has been Interior Minister Horst Seehofer who said earlier this week, “If I were not a minister, I would have taken to the streets as a citizen.”
Seehofer, who leads the CDU’s sister party in Bavaria, the CSU, has been far more critical on migration issues than Chancellor Merkel, aligned himself with the pro-borders “Axis of the Willing” alongside Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz and Italy’s Matteo Salvini, who leads one half of the Mediterranean country’s new populist coalition government.
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