German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party suffered a major setback in key state polls Sunday over her liberal refugee policy, while the right-wing populist AfD recorded a surge as it scooped up support from angry voters.

Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was defeated in two of three states in regional elections, and scored a historic low 27 percent in its stronghold Baden-Wuerttemberg where it came in second place after the Greens, final results for the southwestern state showed.

The populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which had sparked outrage by suggesting police may have to shoot at migrants to stop them entering the country, recorded double-digit support in the first elections they have stood for in all three regions.

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