Election losses for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) in three German state elections should not result in a change of course in the refugee crisis, German politicians argued on Monday.
CDU losses in the three states and major gains by the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), which entered all three state parliaments, were widely perceived as weakening Merkel's position ahead of Thursday's summit of EU leaders on the refugee crisis.
But according to Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, 80 per cent of voters in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt chose political parties that "advocate a European solution to the refugee crisis and support the chancellor's course."
Merkel has resisted border closures and other unilateral measures to reduce the number of migrants entering Germany and is pushing for a European solution to the crisis with the support of Turkey. About 1 million asylum seekers came to Germany in 2015.
Guenther Oettinger, an EU commissioner and an ally of Merkel, said the chancellor's European solution had a chance of success despite Sunday's election outcome.
"This is why bringing about a change of course now would be wrong," Oettinger told Germany's Funke media group.
Domestic critics of Merkel, including Horst Seehofer - the leader of her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) - argued on Monday that the election outcome could not result in inaction.
"It cannot be possible that the answer to such an election outcome is that everything will continue as before," he said ahead of a CSU meeting in Munich. When asked whether Merkel was still the right person to lead Germany, he answered: "Yes."
Parties including Merkel's CDU and her centre-left Social Democrat coalition partners were holding meetings on Monday to discuss the fallout from the elections.
Merkel was due to respond to the results at a press conference later Monday.