Migrant crisis hurts Merkel at the polls

  • 15/03/2016
Angela Merkel (AAP)
Angela Merkel (AAP)

Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to press on with her migrant policy despite seeing her Christian Democrats (CDU) party being punished by voters who flocked to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Sunday's three regional polls.

The electoral setbacks came just as Merkel is trying to convince her European Union partners to seal a deal with Turkey to stem the tide of migrants, which has already dwindled as countries along the main route have unilaterally shut borders and erected fences.

Ms Merkel, who has staked her reputation on a thus-far elusive European solution to the crisis, came under renewed pressure on Monday from her Bavarian allies to make Germany's border less porous, but refused to buckle.

"Yesterday was a difficult day for the CDU," she said after a party meeting to assess the damage from the polls.

"Without a doubt, we have come a long way towards solving the refugee issue, but we still don't have a sustainable solution. I am fully convinced that we need a European solution, and that this solution needs time."

Ms Merkel alarmed many European leaders last week by gambling on a last-minute draft deal with Turkey to stop the migrant flow, and must win their support at a summit later this week to cement the controversial plan.

She can at least look to recent national opinion polls, including one that had her personal approval rating hitting its highest level this year, at 50 percent, just after the draft agreement with Turkey.