German Chancellor Angela Merkel is on course for a fourth term in office against the backdrop of a surge in support for the far-right, exit polls in the German election suggest.
Merkel’s CDU party and its sister CSU are predicted to be the largest in the German parliament, the Bundestag, with 33.5% of the seats. The CDU’s coalition partner, the SPD, fell to 21%, a result met with shock at the party’s headquarters.
Alternative for Germany (AfD) is predicted to become the first far-right party to win seats in the Bundestag since 1960, with about 13% of seats, according to FORSA polling institute data commissioned by German public broadcaster ZDF.
Merkel said the result gave her a “mandate” to govern but that the AfD result would require “thorough analysis” to understand the concerns of their voters.
SPD leader Martin Schulz said the result was a “bitter disappointment” and the party would return to opposition.
With the SPD refusing to rejoin a coalition and no party willing to work with the AfD, it leaves Merkel with few options for a coalition.
The exit polls would suggest that Merkel may be forced to make a deal with the Green Party and FDP, to create a so-called “Jamaican coalition” — with the green and and yellow of the two parties combining with the black of the CDU to resemble the flag of Jamaica.
The pro-business FDP are expected to take 10% of seats with the Greens one percentage point behind on nine.
Coalition talks are unlikely to begin in earnest until final results have been announced on Monday.
To form a government, the parties involved must have a combined total of at least 50% of the seats in parliament.
There are likely to be several coalition options, and plenty of disagreement between the parties before they reach a deal.
Parliament will reconvene on October 24 with the new government in place.