Merkel’s party faces voters’ anger, a year after opening borders

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SCHWERIN, Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party braced for a backlash at state polls on Sunday, while anti-migrant populists are poised for major gains a year after the German leader opened the borders to refugees. Around 1.33 million voters are electing a new regional parliament for the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which is also home to Merkel’s constituency Stralsund. The polls come exactly a year after the German leader made the momentous decision to let in tens of thousands of Syrian and other migrants marooned in eastern European countries. Although she won praise at first, the mood has since turned, giving way to fears over how Europe’s biggest economy will manage to integrate the million people who arrived last year alone. Her decision has left her increasingly isolated in Europe, and exposed her to heavy criticism at home, including from her own conservative allies. Right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has campaigned heavily against Merkel’s liberal refugee policy, is expected to record strong support at the polls.

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