Germany: Merkel aide criticized over comment on nationalists

Germany's justice minister is accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff of playing into the nationalist Alternative for Germany's hands after he said it was better not to vote at all than to choose the anti-migration party.

Chief of staff Peter Altmaier replied "of course" when asked the question this week regarding Alternative for Germany, or AfD. He added: "AfD divides our country, it exploits people's concerns and worries."

Center-left Justice Minister Heiko Maas criticized the conservative Altmaier in a video interview Thursday with the Bild daily. He said: "Telling people they shouldn't vote is helping AfD's campaign. That's exactly what they want."

AfD looks set to enter parliament for the first time in Sunday's election. Co-leader Alexander Gauland has criticized Altmaier's "deeply anti-democratic comment."