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  World   Europe  26 Sep 2017  Cobbling up coalition challenge for Chancellor

Cobbling up coalition challenge for Chancellor

AFP
Published : Sep 26, 2017, 1:47 am IST
Updated : Sep 26, 2017, 1:47 am IST

Merkel faces tough task of bringing together divergent parties FDP, Greens to form majority government.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
 German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel huddled with her party on Monday after winning a fourth term with a far weaker score, now facing the double headache of an emboldened nationalist opposition party and thorny coalition talks ahead.

If the campaign was widely decried as boring, its outcome was a bombshell — a populist hard-right surge poached votes from Ms Merkel’s conservatives as well as the centre-left Social Democrats, handing both their worst results in decades.

 

“A nightmare victory for Merkel,” said Germany’s top-selling daily Bild. “The governing parties and the chancellor squandered the people’s faith in them.”

After 12 years in power and running on a promise of stability and economic strength, Ms Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc scored 33 per cent, according to final results, against 20.5 per cent for the Social Democrats under challenger Martin Schulz, who pledged to go into the opposition.

The election marked a breakthrough for the anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD), which with 12.6 per cent became the third strongest party and vowed to “go after” Ms Merkel over her migrant and refugee policy.

 

Weekly Der Spiegel said Ms Merkel had no one but herself to blame for the bruising she got from voters.

“Angela Merkel deserved this defeat,” the magazine’s Dirk Kurbjuweit wrote, accusing her of running an “uninspired” campaign and “largely ignoring the challenges posed by the right”.

The entry of around 90 hard-right nationalist MPs to Bundestag chamber breaks a taboo in post-World War II Germany.

“We will take our country back,” vowed the AfD’s jubilant Alexander Gaul-and, who has recently urged Germans to be proud of their war veterans and said a government official who is of Turkish origin should be “dumped in Anatolia”. While supporters of the AfD —  a party with links to the far-right French National Front and Brit-ain’s UKIP — sang the German anthem at a Berlin club, hundreds of protesters shouted “Nazis out!” The party’s infighting between radical and more moderate forces spilled out into open at a conference.

 

AfD co-leader Frauke Petry stunned her colleagues by saying she would not join the party’s parliamentary group and would serve as an independent MP. She then abruptly left the room in a move Gauland criticised as “excessively feisty”.

Political scientist Suzanne Schuettemeyer of the University of Halle in eastern Germany said despite it remaining an opposition party, the AfD’s presence in parliament would harm Germany’s image abroad.

“It’s Germany and it will change the way we are perceived, because AfD will speak a language that we thought we had overcome, that was outside of our political consensus,” she told AFP.

Tags: angela merkel, martin schulz