The conservative CDU which is allied with her Bavarian sister CSU together garnered 33 percent of the ballots, down from 41.5 percent four years ago, according to the pollster Infratest. The SPD led by Merkel’s challenger Martin Schulz lost support as well but not nearly as much as the CDU/CSU. Only 20.5 percent of the electorate supported Schulz’s party, compared to 23 percent in 2009, according to preliminary official result. Voting participation was 76.2 percent.
It is the first time since the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in the early fifties that a right-wing party enters parliament. Founded only four years ago, the AfD’s base are Germans worried about mass immigration and security. Four years ago, the AfD tried but failed to enter the Bundestag because it did not meet the required five-percent clause. Photo: AfD celebrates its victory. Candidate Alexander Gauland (center) will become member pf the Bundestag.
The Free Democrats, a business friendly party, made a strong comeback after having been voted out of parliament four years ago. Led by Christian Lindner, the FDP won 10.7 percent of the vote.The Green Party garnered 8.9 percent, Die Linke, or left party won 9.2 percent. Others: 5.1 percent.
Merkel must now form a coalition government – an arduous process that could take months as all potential partners are unsure whether they really want to share power with her.
Merkel, Europe’s longest serving leader, joins the late Helmut Kohl, her mentor who reunified Germany, and Konrad Adenauer, who led Germany’s rebirth after World War Two, as the only post-war chancellors to win four national elections.
SPD deputy leader Manuela Schwesig said her party would now go into opposition. That would rule out a re-run of Merkel’s existing alliance with the SPD. Photo: SPD candidate and party Chairman Martin Schulz
An alternative coalition for Merkel would be a three-way tie-up with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the ecologist Greens. That is a combination as yet untested at national level and known as the “Jamaica” option because the three parties’ colors are those of the black-gold-green Jamaica national flag.
Both the FDP and the environmentalist Greens have played down the prospect of a Jamaica coalition, but as they have been out of government for four and 12 years respectively, they may be lured into an alliance by the prospect of power.
Whatever the make-up of her coalition, Merkel, 63, faces four years of government in a fragmented parliament after the return of the FDP – unrepresented at national level for the last four years – and the arrival of the AfD.
Founded in 2013 by an anti-euro group of academics, the AfD has morphed into an anti-immigration party that has profited from Merkel’s 2015 decision to leave German borders open to over 1 million migrants, most of them fleeing war in the Middle East.
The party’s entry into the national parliament heralds the beginning of a new era in German politics that will see more robust debate and a departure from the steady, consensus-based approach that has marked the post-war period.
The other parties elected to the Bundestag all refuse to work with the AfD, which says it will press for Merkel to be “severely punished” for opening the door to refugees and migrants.
After the AfD hurt her conservatives in regional elections last year, Merkel, a pastor’s daughter who grew up in Communist East Germany, wondered if she should run for re-election.
But with the migrant issue under control this year, she threw herself into a punishing campaign schedule, presenting herself as an anchor of stability in an uncertain world.
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