Angela Merkel's CDU Party Wins German Election But Must Form Govt With Greens & Free Liberals

Angela Merkel wins re-election as chancellor of Germany, as opposition parties insure she will have a rough ride.

Angela Merkel wins re-election as chancellor of Germany, as opposition parties insure she will have a rough ride.

Politico Europe shares news of Angela Merkel's victory as the Germany chancellor's Conservative party posts its worst score in national elections since 1949.  Likewise, the second-place Social Democrats (SPD) lost votes to the third-place, far-right finishers. 

“We don’t need to beat about the bush, we had hoped for a better result. But we should not forget that we had a very challenging parliamentary term behind us,” Merkel told supporters at the headquarters of her CDU party.

“We have the task of forming a government.”

Merkel’s CDU/CSU alliance won about 33 percent of the vote, the SPD about 20.8 percent, followed by the far-right Alternative for Germany on 13.3 percent, according to the latest ARD television projections.

With the Social Democrats saying they will now become an opposition party, Merkel will be trying to form a governing coalition with the liberal Free Democrats (estimated 10.5 percent) and the Greens (9.1 percent). Such a coalition has never been attempted in Germany -- although if anyone can thread that needle, it's Angela Merkel. 

Alexander Gauland, one of the leaders of the anti-immigrant AfD, vowed to “hunt” Merkel’s government from its new base in parliament.

“Dear friends, now that we’re obviously the third biggest power … the government has to buckle up. We will hunt them. We will hunt Mrs Merkel … and we will reclaim our country and our people,” said Gauland, writes Politico Europe. 

Related: Angela Merkel Makes History in German Vote, but So Does Far Right New York Times

The Enduring Appeal of Angela Merkel The Atlantic

Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

This election wasn’t supposed to be so easy for Merkel. From the backlash against her divisive open-door policy towards refugees to the nomination of newcomer Schulz as the SPD’s chancellor candidate, many predicted this election would mark the beginning of the end of Merkel’s 12-year reign. But those challenges proved surmountable for Mutti (the German word for “mother,” as Merkel is affectionately known), whose ranking in the polls eventually recovered from the “Schulz effect,” a boost buoyed by a marked drop in the number of asylum-seeker applications in 2017.

But Merkel’s longevity has little to do with those factors, Marcel Dirsus, a political scientist at the University of Kiel, told me. “Merkel is something of an anchor,” he said. “She makes people feel safe because she’s very experienced, she’s been around a long time, she’s very calm, and she’s very good at dealing with sources of instability. People in Germany really love stability, and she stands for that more than anything else.”