Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union has come out on top in Germany’s national election on Sunday, according to early exit polls, putting her on the path for a fourth term in power.
Early projections show Merkel’s center-right CDU won an estimated 32 percent of the vote, followed by the center-left Social Democratic Party, or SPD, that trailed behind with about 20 percent of the vote. Several other parties managed to cross the 5 percent threshold to enter parliament, including the far-right Alternative for Germany party, pro-business Free Democratic Party and environmentalist Greens.
Merkel will now likely seek to partner with the Free Democrats and Greens to form a government ― an untested alliance known as the “Jamaica coalition” because of the parties’ colors. Another possibility was a continuation of the so-called “grand coalition” between the CDU and the SPD, but the latter decided to rule out any partnership and attempt to rebuild itself as the main opposition party.
Although Merkel’s victory in the vote was fairly certain, the election saw fractures emerge in Germany’s established political landscape as the two largest parties lost seats to smaller political movements. Merkel’s party had the biggest fall, dropping 8 percent from last election, while the SPD is down 5 percent.
The shift was similar to other European elections this year, such as France and the Netherlands, where once prominent mainstream parties suffered major losses. As in those elections, Germany’s vote also resulted in significant gains for the far-right.