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German election: Angela Merkel set for fourth term as far-right surges

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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.

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