Angela Merkel has won a fourth term as German Chancellor, but with her party’s lead in parliament cut and the country facing a surge in support for the far right.
Exit polls predicted the hard-right Alternative for Germany would become the third-largest group in the national parliament, the Bundestag, as German voters delivered a stinging blow to the traditional parties.
According to CNN, Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union and its sister Christian Social Union had their share of the vote slashed. Germany’s oldest party, the centre-left SPD, which had been in a “grand coalition” with Merkel, was consigned to opposition.
Addressing her supporters, a subdued Merkel said the result gave her a “mandate” to govern but that the AfD’s success would require a “thorough analysis” to understand the concerns of their voters.
The exit polls showed Merkel’s CDU/CSU group would be the largest in the Bundestag, but with its lead cut to 33.5 per cent of the seats, down from 41.5 per cent in 2013.
The SPD fell to 21 per cent from 25.7 per cent, a result met with shock at the party’s headquarters. It was the CDU’s worst result since 1949, and the SPD’s worst since 1945.
Addressing her supporters, Merkel pledged to understand the concerns of voters who lent their support to the AfD.
“There’s a big new challenge for us, and that is the entry of the AfD in the Bundestag. We want to win back AfD voters,” she said.
SPD leader, Martin Schulz, said the result was a “bitter disappointment” and the party would not continue in coalition.