Chancellor Angela Merkel has claimed a mandate to form a new German government after her conservatives beat their rivals on Sunday to win her a fourth term, in an election that will also bring an anti-immigrant, anti-EU party into Germany’s parliament.
Merkel vowed Sunday to win back voters from the nationalist Alternative for Germany Party (AfD) after it got enough support to enter parliament.
She conceded that her party “would have preferred a better result.” But she noted that her party had been in power for 12 years and said the last four years had been “extremely challenging.”
After shock election results last year, such as Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, many look to Merkel to rally a bruised liberal Western order, tasking her with leading a post-Brexit Europe.
She must now form a coalition government — an arduous process that could take months as all potential partners are unsure whether they really want to share power with her.
Merkel’s conservative bloc won 32.5 per cent of the vote, making them the largest parliamentary group, an exit poll for broadcaster ARD indicated. However, that was down from 41.5 per cent in the last election, in 2013.
Support for their closest rivals, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) which are currently junior partners in a so-called grand coalition with Merkel, slumped to 20 per cent — a new post-war low. The SPD ruled out a rerun of that tie-up.
The far-right AfD stunned the establishment by finishing third and entering parliament for the first time with 13.5 per cent of the vote.
SPD goes into opposition
Merkel, Europe’s longest-serving leader, joins the late Helmut Kohl, her mentor who reunified Germany, and Konrad Adenauer, who led Germany’s rebirth after the Second World War, as the only post-war chancellors to win four national elections.
Volker Kauder, parliamentary floor leader of Merkel’s conservaties, told ARD television that his party reached its goal to win the election. “We have the mandate to lead the next government,” Kauder said.
SPD Deputy Leader Manuela Schwesig said her party would now go into opposition. That would rule out a rerun of Merkel’s existing alliance with the SPD.
‘The fact that we took in more than one million refugees in our country is still dividing in our country’
– Martin Schulz, leader of Social Democrats
Martin Schulz, SPD party leader and chancellor…