63-year-old German Chancellor Angela Merkel has won a fourth term in Sunday’s national election but her victory was not as comprehensive as she and her party had hoped, as the hard right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) made it to the parliament in what was the best performance of a nationalist political movement since World War II.
Merkel who had held a double-digit lead for most of the campaign, scored around 33 percent of the vote with her conservative Christian Union (CDU/CSU) bloc, according to exit polls.
With this development, Merkel’s already twelve-year reign is set to continue.
Her closest rivals in the election, the Social Democrats and their candidate Martin Schulz, came in a distant second, with what was a post-war record low of 20-21 percent.
The biggest news was however the impressive showing of the anti-Islam, anti-immigration AfD which captured around 13 percent of the votes, thereby emerging as the country’s third biggest political force.
Some observers have reacted to the AfD’s performance as historical, even as supporters gathered at the party’s headquarters in Berlin cheering as they watched the outcome on television while they chorused the German national anthem.
While reacting to the electoral outcome, Merkel expressed excitement, but admitted that she had fallen far short of the 40-percent goal her party set.
“There’s a big new challenge for us, and that is the entry of the AfD in the Bundestag,” said Merkel, adding, “We want to win back AfD voters”.
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