German Chancellor Angela Merkel was greeted by a mass of angry anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) supporters at a campaign rally on Monday. The chancellor is attempting to win reelection for a fourth term.
Reuters reports that a group of 100 supporters of the burgeoning German political party, Alternative for Germany, heckled Merkel and shouted slogans such as “immigration needs clear rules” as she gave a 33-minute speech in a market square in the scenic western town of Gelnhausen.
Other chants included “AfD” and “Merkel needs to go” as the activists attempted to disrupt Merkel’s message, which was centered around security, refugees, the economy and the diesel emissions scandal affecting Germany’s car industry.
Merkel wasn’t deaf to the protests; she acknowledged them by saying Germany is a “democracy where people can show their discontent.” But she added: “Sometimes listening, a bit, isn’t a bad thing.”
There were Merkel supporters in the crowd, as well, holding signs with the German colors that read: “Angela Merkel” and “For a Germany in which we live well and happily” – the campaign slogan of her Christian Democrats (CDU).
Germany’s upcoming election on Sept. 24 is expected to maintain the majority of Merkel’s Conservative Party but render them still in need of a coalition partner. Polls indicate that the AfD is expected to enter the ranks of the German parliament for the first time, polling at 7-9 percent. A party must win at least 5 percent of the popular vote to garner seats in parliament.
Undoubtedly, Germany’s rocky past two years, dealing with mass immigration from the Middle East, has ignited the political appeal of a party such as AfD. But it doesn’t appear voters are ready to oust Merkel completely just yet.
Merkel drew boos mixed with applause when she thanked volunteers and professionals who helped the 890,000 migrants and refugees who arrived in Germany in 2015 after her controversial decision to open the country’s borders.
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