Merkel wins fourth term, na­tion­al­ists strong in Ger­many

Truro Daily News - - WORLD - BER­LIN

Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s con­ser­va­tive bloc won a lack­lus­tre vic­tory in Ger­many’s na­tional elec­tion Sun­day while the anti-mi­grant, na­tion­al­ist Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many party man­aged a tri­umphant en­try into par­lia­ment, pro­jec­tions showed.

Merkel’s main cen­tre-left ri­vals, the So­cial Democrats, were set for their worst re­sult since World War II. The party, led by Merkel’s chal­lenger Martin Schulz, vowed im­me­di­ately to leave her coali­tion gov­ern­ment and go into op­po­si­tion.

The out­come puts Merkel on course for a fourth term as chan­cel­lor — but means that she has a tricky task in form­ing a new coali­tion gov­ern­ment.

Pro­jec­tions for ARD and ZDF public television, based on exit polls and early count­ing, showed Merkel’s Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union and their Bavaria-only al­lies, the Chris­tian So­cial Union, win­ning around 33 per cent of the vote — down from 41.5 per cent four years ago. It was one of their worst post-war show­ings.

Schulz’s So­cial Democrats were seen trail­ing far be­hind, with 20-21 per cent sup­port. That would be the out­right worst post-war for the party, which has served since 2013 as the ju­nior

part­ner in a “grand coali­tion” of Ger­many’s big­gest par­ties un­der Merkel.

Merkel was greeted at her party’s head­quar­ters by sup­port­ers ap­plaud­ing and chant­ing “Angie!”

“Of course, we would have pre­ferred a bet­ter re­sult, that is com­pletely

clear,” she said. “But we mustn’t for­get that we have had an ex­tremely chal­leng­ing par­lia­men­tary term be­hind us.”

“We have a man­date to form a new gov­ern­ment, and no gov­ern­ment can be formed against us,” Merkel added.

“We want to win back AfD vot­ers

by solv­ing prob­lems, by tak­ing ac­count of their con­cerns and fears, and above all with good poli­cies,” Merkel added.

Smaller par­ties were the chief ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the ero­sion in sup­port for Ger­many’s tra­di­tion­ally dom­i­nant par­ties — above all the right-wing Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many, or AfD, which was set to win up to 13.5 per cent of the vote.

AfD cap­i­tal­ized on dis­con­tent with es­tab­lished politi­cians but par­tic­u­larly tar­geted those an­gry over the in­flux of more than one mil­lion mostly Mus­lim mi­grants into Ger­many in the past two years un­der Merkel.

AfD co-leader Alexan­der Gauland vowed that “we will take our coun­try back” and promised to “chase” Merkel.

“This is a big day in our party’s history. We have en­tered the Bun­destag and we will change this coun­try,” Gauland said.

Big cheers went up at AfD’s elec­tion party af­ter exit polls showed them fin­ish­ing in third place. Some sup­port­ers chanted “AfD! AfD!” and oth­ers started singing the Ger­man na­tional an­them.

An­other big win­ner Sun­day was the pro-busi­ness Free Demo­cratic Party, which was set to re­turn to par­lia­ment with 10.5 per cent of the vote.

The party was Merkel’s coali­tion part­ner in her sec­ond term from 2009-13 but lost all its seats at the last elec­tion.

“In a coun­try that is big on schaden­freude, our come­back is an en­cour­ag­ing mes­sage — af­ter fail­ure, a new be­gin­ning is pos­si­ble,” party leader Chris­tian Lind­ner told sup­port­ers.

AP PHOTO

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, head of the Chris­tian Demo­cratic Party CDU, is greeted by her her chal­lenger Martin Schulz, head of the So­cial Demo­cratic Party SPD, prior to a TV talk of the party lead­ers in Ber­lin yes­ter­day af­ter the Ger­man...

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