Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) won Germany’s parliamentary election Sunday, but populists Alternative for Germany (AfD) have reason to celebrate, exit polls show.
CDU and sister party the Social Christian Union received 32.5 percent followed by the Social Democrats (SPD) at 20 percent. AfD will enter parliament for the first time after grabbing third place with 13.5 percent, according to Deutsche Welle.
The other parties to pass the 5 percent threshold were the pro-business FDP at 10.5 percent, the Greens with 9.5 percent and the hard-left Linke party at 9 percent.
While CDU continues to be strongest force in parliament, it drops nine percentage points compared to the last election. Many conservatives have instead turned to the AfD in protest of Merkel’s open-door immigration policies.
The big question leading up to the election has not been whether or not Merkel would stay on as chancellor, but rather who she will rule with. A continued collaboration with SPD would make AfD the largest opposition party. Merkel’s expected choice of ruling with FPD and the Greens will also beat the the 50 percent mark, according to exit polls.
AfD has primarily focused on an anti-immigration agenda during the campaign after growing to significance during the migrant crisis. Sunday’s results break a longstanding taboo that has kept populists out of German politics for decades.
Merkel and SPD leader Martin Schultz both urged Germans to vote in an attempt to stop AfD’s surge.
“My request to everyone is that they vote, and vote for those parties that adhere 100 percent to our constitution,” Merkel said in an interview with MDR radio Thursday.
Final results are not expected until Monday.
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