The results are in: Angela Merkel will serve a fourth term as chancellor of Germany, with her conservative CDU/CSU alliance set to remain the largest party in parliament, while an upstart nationalist party becomes the third-largest in parliament after performing better than anticipated.
On their face, the exit polls look good for the alliance between the conservative Christian Democrat (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) that Merkel leads, as they reigned supreme with about 32.9 percent of the vote, trouncing the second-place Social Democrats (SPD) who mustered 20.8 percent.
However, the yet-to-be confirmed results could be the worst posted by Merkel’s alliance in over the last four elections, with Merkel herself stating that she had hoped for a “better result,” the BBC reported.
In a concession to the anti-mass-migration, nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which was projected to receive about 10 percent of the vote but instead came in at around 13.1 percent, Merkel acknowledged the “concerns, worries and anxieties” of AfD voters and vowed to win them back.
“Today we can say that we now have a mandate to assume responsibility and we’re going to assume this responsibility calmly, talking with our partners of course,” she said.
Merkel’s tepid numbers suggest that voters have grown tired of the migrant crisis, which has seen Germany welcome nearly 1 million undocumented migrants and refugees, the vast majority of whom came from majority-Muslim nations.
They also pose a dire problem for Merkel as she seeks to form a coalition, as SPD leader Martin Schulz announced that his party’s historically low results brought about the end of the “grand coalition” with CDU-CSU.
She will likely have to create a coalition with the sparring Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green, as all parties have refused to work with the AfD over concerns that its candidates have espoused far-right views.
However, AfD leaders have pointed to the results as a clear indicator that Germany is ready for a change.
“We’ll start debates on migration, we’ll start debates on Islam, we’ll start debates on ever closer union,” said prominent AfD leader Beatrix van Storch.