angela merkel - bolja.jpg
Photograph: EPA/MICHAEL KAPPELER

A Social Democrat leader and member of Germany's governing coalition has blamed Chancellor Angela Merkel for the country's political shift to the right, conservative daily newspaper Die Welt reported on Sunday.

Thomas Opperman, Social Democrat parliamentary leader and a senior member of Merkel's coalition, added his voice to growing criticism of the chancellor for shifting her traditionally conservative Christian Democratic Party (CDU) so far to the centre that some voters have opted for right-wing alternatives.

Germany's right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which was founded in 2013 and is currently polling at around 9 per cent, has made significant gains in recent months by campaigning for stringent immigration controls as Germany faces an unprecedented influx of refugees.

"Merkel is rendering millions of citizens politically homeless," Opperman told the newspaper. "This is a serious failure and an explanation for the fact that even moderate voters are opting for the AfD."

Merkel has been widely criticized for coopting many of the centre-left's political messages, thereby rendering the opposition - currently made up of the Left Party (Die Linke) and the environmentalist Greens - near redundant and causing alienation among her conservative voters.

Oppermann also blamed Merkel's open-door policy towards refugees for the waning of support from within her traditional voter base.

"Mrs Merkel must give people the unadulterated truth about integration and the difficulties that come with it," he said. "Unfortunately, her [party and its Bavarian ally] have failed to do this thus far."

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