Angela Merkel is heading for a fourth term as Germany’s chancellor after her centre-right CDU party and its CSU sister party won 32% of the vote, initial exit polls have projected.
The estimation puts the Christian Democrats comfortably ahead of their outgoing coalition partner and main rival, the Social Democrat SPD party led by Martin Schulz, which ended a miserable campaign with just 20% – a near rout.
But as predicted, the far-right, anti-immigration AfD has spoiled the chancellor’s party, clearing the 5% parliamentary threshold for the first time in its four-year history with a score of 13%, making it the third largest party in the Bundestag and possibly the official opposition.
The smaller, pro-business FDP party, Merkel’s favoured coalition partner, looks set to return to parliament after missing out in 2013 with a share of 10%, while the Green party won 9% and the left-wing Die Linke 9%.
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