Chancellor Angela Merkel has secured her fourth term in office in Sunday’s (24 September) election amidst a historic breakthrough of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, signaling a political turbulence in Europe’s largest economy.
Chancellor’s Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party saw their weakest results since 1949 losing 20% of the 41.5% support they had had in the previous election four years ago. The Social Democrats have suffered their worst ‘defeat’ since the end of WWII. Their losses combined with the success of the far-right party that was founded only five years ago came despite a well-functioning economy with almost full employment.
The results of the German federal election might shake a political system whose relative stability has underpinned the workings of the European Union for years. While the center has grown weaker, an unpredictable new force rose on the right as the polls point out to Ms. Merkel’s decision to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants in 2015. AfD will become the first far-right party to sit in the German parliament – the Bundestag – in more than half a century. The party that has won votes on the negative rhetoric towards the European Union describes Germany’s Muslim minority as a “great danger”, adding that the country should reduce its focus on Holocaust remembrance.
AfD’s success also reflects the rise of anti-establishment mood across the West in recent years and underlines the shrinking of the political center. Chancellor Merkel admitted that the entering of AfD into the German Bundestag would be “a great new challenge”. She also admitted that she was slightly disappointed with the result and added that “we want to win back AfD voters by solving problems, by taking in their concerns and in part their fears, and especially through good policy-making.”