Merkel Ally Resigns as Saxony’s Leader After Losses to AfD

  • Anti-immigration party won state in last month’s national vote
  • German chancellor’s ruling CDU struggles in key eastern region

State Premier for the federal state of Saxony Stanislaw Tillich delivers a statement to resign at the State chancellery in Dresden, eastern Germany, on Oct. 18.

Photographer: Sebastian Kahnert/AFP via Getty Images

An ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said he’s resigning as state leader of Saxony after an anti-immigration party beat her once-dominant Christian Democratic Union in the region in last month’s national election.

Stanislaw Tillich, 58, who has governed Saxony since 2008, said “new answers” are needed in the eastern state, which is a bastion of the Alternative for Germany, or AfD. The party, which campaigns against Merkel’s open-borders refugee policy, took 27 percent of the state’s vote to the CDU’s 26.9 percent. Tillich plans to hand over in December to the state CDU’s general secretary, Michael Kretschmer.

Two years after the peak of Europe’s refugee crisis, the AfD will be the first far-right party since the immediate aftermath of World War II to enter the Bundestag when the newly elected parliament convenes next Tuesday. All three districts won directly by AfD candidates in the Sept. 24 election, rather than by proportional representation, were in Saxony.

“We’re confronted with big social challenges,” Tillich said in a statement on the regional government’s website. “We’re preoccupied with many events of recent years and intensive discussions about Saxony’s condition.”

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