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Merkel to stay refugee policy course despite vote debacle

German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech at the last electoral meeting on March 12, 2016 in Haigerloch, southwestern Germany, ahead the regional state elections in Baden-Wuerttemberg.  More than 12 million voters are electing three new regional parliaments for the southwestern states of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as eastern Saxony-Anhalt in the so-called Super Sunday polls. / AFP / Thomas Kienzle

German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech at the last electoral meeting on March 12, 2016 in Haigerloch, southwestern Germany, ahead the regional state elections in Baden-Wuerttemberg.<br />More than 12 million voters are electing three new regional parliaments for the southwestern states of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as eastern Saxony-Anhalt in the so-called Super Sunday polls. / AFP / Thomas Kienzle

German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans no changes to her refugee policy despite heavy losses in state elections at the weekend, her spokesman said Monday.

“The federal government will stay its refugee policy course, fully determined, at home and abroad,” the spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told a news briefing.

“The goal must be a common, sustainable European solution that leads to a tangible reduction of the number of refugees in all (EU) member states.”

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union suffered defeats in two out of three states voting in elections Sunday just as the AfD, a right-wing populist party campaigning against her liberal asylum policy, surged to double-digit results.

Seibert said Merkel would continue to pursue a strategy of working to bolster the security of the EU’s external borders and cooperating with Turkey to reduce refugee flows.

“Domestically, we are committed to easing the integration of people who have sought protection here who have been taken in,” he said.

“At the same time, we are making clear that it can only be an integration into our system of law and order, on the foundation of our basic values and rules of coexistence.”

The state elections were the biggest since Germany registered a record influx of refugees that reached 1.1 million in 2015, and largely regarded as a referendum on Merkel’s decision to open the doors to people fleeing war.

Merkel, who was expected to give her first reaction to the polls shortly after midday, has so far resolutely refused to impose a cap on refugee arrivals, insisting instead on common European action that includes distributing asylum seekers among the EU’s 28 member states.



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