Merkel's conservative bloc garners 32.5 pct of vote: preliminary exit poll

Merkel's conservative bloc garners 32.5 pct of vote: preliminary exit poll

Merkel's conservative bloc garners 32.5 pct of vote: preliminary exit poll

Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in office on Sunday (Sept 24) but will have to build an uneasy coalition to form a government after her conservatives haemorrhaged support in the face of a surge by the far-right.

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 percent of the vote - down from 41.5 percent four years ago.

Speaking to subdued supporters, Schulz of the SPD pledged that his party would "bear the consequences" and enter the opposition benches, in recognition he said that voters had signalled that they did not wish a continuation of the grand coalition between the SPD and CDU/CSU, which has dominated most of Merkel's time in government since 2005.

Germany in particular is coping with the arrival of more than 1 million refugees and other new migrants, with tension with Russian Federation since Moscow's incursions into Ukraine, and with doubt about Europe's future since Britain voted to quit the EU.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany said the election results had confirmed its worst fears and urged other parties to remain united in opposing the AfD.

Chancellor Angela Merkel after she cast her vote in Berlin for in the Germany elections.

The AfD's propulsion into parliament just four years into its existence gives the country its first far-right force on the national stage since 1961, and a faction with the most substantial presence of rightwing extremists since the Nazi era.

Cheers and applause erupted at the Berlin headquarters of the Alternative fur Deutschland, as they were projected to receive more than 13 per cent of the vote and their first ever seats in Germany's parliament. "But we mustn't forget that we have just completed an extraordinarily challenging legislative period, so I am happy that we reached the strategic goals of our election campaign", Merkel said.

Merkel, during her only televised debate during her campaign, said Germany must work with the USA, on issues like ISIS and Afghanistan and that despite their differences on diplomacy, trade and climate change, she will do her best to find common ground with the American leader. Merkel's bloc dropped some nine percentage points from the last election in 2013 to record its worst result since 1949.

After shock election results past year, from the Brexit vote to the election of US President Donald Trump, leaders of Europe's establishment have looked to Merkel to rally the liberal Western order.

A political ad for the right-wing party Alternative for Germany reads
View Slideshow A political ad for the right-wing party Alternative for Germany reads"New Germans? We'll make them ourselves

AfD capitalized on discontent with established politicians but particularly targeted those angry over the influx of more than 1 million mostly Muslim migrants into Germany in the past two years under Merkel. "Today is a hard and bitter day for social democracy in Germany", he said, adding that the party had "failed in our election purpose" and had not managed to mobilise the party's traditional base. Some supporters chanted "AfD!"

Goetz Froemming, a candidate for the AfD in Berlin and the party's campaign organiser in the German capital, said: "This is a historic moment and a turning point for our party".

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

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.

The so-called Jamaica coalition, which would see Merkel ruling together with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats, is her likeliest path toward a majority in parliament.

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

Schulz's defeat to Merkel means the Social Democrats haven't won an election since 2002, and raises a question mark over his fate as leader.

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.

The AfD is expected to hold some 87 seats in parliament.

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