Support for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right coalition dropped below the 30 percent mark for the first time, according to a poll released Tuesday. The INSA survey in Bild newspaper put Merkel's conservatives down 0.5 percentage points at 29.5 percent, the lowest level measured for the bloc by that polling institute. The SPD gained 1 percentage point but was still far behind at 22 percent and the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) was unchanged on 15 percent.
Merkel, whose long-stellar approval ratings have taken a dive amid the refugee crisis, came under fresh fire over her pro-immigration policy stance. German Chancellor is suffering from low popularity, cutting a lonely figure in her struggle for resisting pressure to change refugee policy. Even though Merkel defends her immigration policy and calls on all political parties to fight against xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric, her support is gradually diminishing in the German parliament and among political parties. Her party suffered an electoral blow in Berlin state elections, two weeks after being relegated to third place behind anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the regional election in her constituency in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. The AfD has capitalized on widespread discontent about the arrival of the large number of migrants, which it argues resulted from Merkel's promise of sanctuary to Syrian refugees.
Germany society has been polarized by the influx of some 890,000 asylum seekers last year. Although many fewer migrants have entered the country in 2016, an estimated 210,000 people so far, parties on the far right have called for an immigration cap. The German government published a report last month warning that there had been an increase of racist and far-right attacks in eastern Germany, calling the violence "a big threat for the development of the society and economy."
In a bid to find response to the European refugee crisis, German Chancellor Merkel embarked on three-nation Africa tour in order to recast its relations with Africa in the wake of the refugee crisis. Merkel's African tour was meant to highlight the global migration crisis and security issues. Merkel travelled on to Ethiopia on Tuesday, on the last leg of her first extended trip to Africa since 2011. She is the first German head of government to travel to Niger, one of the world's poorest countries.
During her visit in Niger, Merkel announced a 27-million-euro aid package for Niger, her second stop in a three-nation Africa tour aimed at fighting terrorism and stemming the migrant influx to Europe. Roughly 90 percent of migrants who reach the Libyan post, a jumping-off point for the dangerous Mediterranean crossing to Italy, cross through Niger, making it a crucial partner for Europe in controlling migration flows.
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