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Angela Merkel’s fourth term as chancellor was marred by the rise of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, winning 13% of the vote on Sunday, entering parliament for the first time post-WW II.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) alliance got only 33% of the vote, its worst showing since 1949 – compared to 41.5% in 2013.
Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SDP) finished second with 20.5%, a post-WW II low. Putting a brave face on her party’s dismal result, Merkel said
“(w)e are the strongest party. We we have the mandate to build the next government, and there cannot be a coalition government built against us.”
Nearly half of German voters rejected the two major parties, dominating the country’s politics since WW II.
Coalition-building won’t be easy. SPD leader Martin Schulz said his party won’t rejoin the so-called “grand” one with the CDU and CSU. Instead, it’ll become its main opposition.
Germany’s parliament will now include members of six parties instead of four. Die Zeit publisher/editor Josef Joffe said Sunday’s result marks a “tectonic shift in German politics,” a likely three-party CDU-led coalition, he believes, with Merkel remaining chancellor to be “highly unstable.”
AfD co-founder Alexander Gauland said his party will “hunt” the new government whatever its new makeup, adding “(w)e’ll get our country and our people back.”
France’s Marine Le Pen tweeted:
“Bravo to our AfD allies for this historic showing.”
Party spokesman, academic/politician Jorg Meuthen maintained its anti-immigration policy is racist, saying
“(w)e will neither tolerate xenophobia or racist positions.”
Party leaders deny being Nazi sympathizers.
The hard-right Free Democratic Party (FDP) appears Merkel’s best coalition option, short of majority rule without a third partner, the Greens a slim possibility, a party that long ago abandoned its anti-establishment leftist agenda.
At this point, nothing is certain. Surprises are possible. Election results showed Germany becoming more hardline, the right-wing AfD and FDP the only parties gaining strength – at the expense of the CDU/CSU and SDP.
Despite her party’s dismal showing, Merkel becomes the third German leader to serve four terms as chancellor – Konrad Adenauer (1949 – 1963) and Helmet Kohl (1982 – 1998), Merkel’s mentor, the other two.
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