Chancellor Angela Merkel clinched a fourth term in Germany’s election while exit polls also predicted the historic entry of the hard-right nationalist party, AfD, in the national parliament by winning its first seats.
According to the exit polls, Merkel, who after 12 years in power held a double-digit lead for most of the campaign, scored around 33 per cent of the vote with her conservative Christian Union (CDU-CSU) bloc. Its nearest rivals, the Social Democrats and their candidate Martin Schulz, came in a distant second, with a post-war record low 20-21 per cent.
But in a bombshell for the German establishment, the anti-Islam, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) captured around 13 per cent, catapulting it to become the country’s third biggest political force.
Commentators called the AfD’s strong performance a watershed moment in the history of the German republic. The top-selling Bild daily called it a political earthquake.
Supporters gathered at the AfD party headquarters in Berlin cheered as public television reported the outcome, many joining in a chorus of the German national anthem.
Merkel basked in her win but admitted that she had fallen far short of the 40-per cent goal her party set. She said, there is a big new challenge for her coalition, and that is the entry of the AfD in the Bundestag. She adding they want to win back AfD voters.