Dutch PM congratulates Merkel on election win; Populism gains ground in Germany

Angela Merkel, 4 Apr 2017
Angela Merkel, 4 Apr 2017. Photo: International Maritime Organization / Wikimedia Commons

Angela Merkel's Christian democratic party CDU got the most votes in the Bundestag elections. Though the German government parties suffered substantial losses, with right-wing populist party AfD gaining significant ground. Prime Minister Mark Rutte called Merkel to congratulate her, he said on Facebook.

"Just congratulated Angela Merkel on the confidence she and her party received from German voters again today", Rutte said on Facebook on Sunday. "The leadership of Chancellor Merkel has been important, not only for Germany, but also for Europe in recent years. I wish her success in forming a coalition and look forward to continuing our good cooperation in the coming years."

The CDU/CSU got 33 percent of the votes, 9 percent less than in the previous election in 2013, NU.nl reports. Despite this, Merkel's party is still the largest. Socio-democrats SPD - the CDU's coalition partner - achieved 20.9 percent of the votes, compared to 25.7 percent in 2013. Right-wing populist party AfD got 12.6 percent of the votes, becoming Germany's third largest party. Four years ago, the AfD was still below the electoral threshold of 5 percent. 

The SPD already announced that, given the loss in votes, the party does not see sense in reigning for another term. This puts Merkel in a difficult position, as she will now have to look for other parties to form a coalition. According to NU.nl, one possibility is the "Jamaica" option - Merkel forming a coalition with the democrats of the FDP (10.7 percent) and the Greens (8.9 percent). Though neither of those parties seem very eager to form a coalition with parties that have such enormous ideological differences. The Netherlands in March. Over six months later, the are still ongoing.

Despite the complex coalition formation that lies ahead of her, Merkel is quite satisfied with the election results, she said in a first reaction. "Of course, we hoped for a better result. But we must not forget that we have an unheard of challenging time behind us, so I am pleased that we achieved the goals of our election campaign", Merkel said, according to NU.nl. "We are the biggest party, we have the mandate to form the next government and there can be no coalition without us." This is the worst election result for the CDU since 1949. 

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