Merkel to remain atop Germany, but anti-immigrant party gains support

Chancellor Angela Merkel cast her vote Sunday in Berlin, confident of a fourth term in office with her conservative bloc enjoying a wide lead in the final polls, while the nationalist, anti-migrant Alternative for Germany party seemed poised to win seats in parliament for the first time.

Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), in partnership with its sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) is projected to take 32.5 percent of the vote in the exit poll conducted by ARD/Infratest Dimap.

The exit polls also show that the far-right Alternative for Germany has gotten some 13.5 percent of the vote, a significant showing of voter anger over immigration and inequality.

The latest surveys put support for Merkel´s conservative block at 34-36 percent, with the SPD trailing at 21-22 percent - which would translate into a historic low for the party. It looks like main competition will be for third place. It will be the first time a far-Right party has sat in the Bundestag since 1961. "If Mrs. Merkel wants to join my cabinet, she can do so as my vice chancellor".

The so-called Jamaica coalition, which would see Merkel ruling together with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats, is her likeliest path toward a majority in parliament. That would rule out a re-run of Merkel's existing alliance with the SPD.

Europe´s most powerful woman appears all but assured of winning another term, in theory matching the 16-year reign of her mentor Helmut Kohl.

About 61.5 million voters are expected to cast ballots, choosing among six major parties. But German unhappiness over her refugee policy that allowed more than a million asylum seekers into the country since 2015 was something she never fully recovered from.

The party has made breaking taboos its trademark.

For his part, One of two AfD leading candidates, Alexander Gauland, had called for Germans to stop atoning for the war past.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung columnist Heribert Prantl praised the chancellor for not only pressing on with her rallies despite protests from AfD supporters but also giving a clear rebuttal to the populists.

Law student Sabine Maier agreed, dismissing the AfD as "too extreme". "They aren't all fascists", she said. It also needs an opposition leader. The gains could potentially be disruptive to politics in Germany, the largest economy in Europe.

After shock election results previous year, from Britain's vote to leave the European Union to the election of US President Donald Trump, many look to Merkel to rally a bruised liberal Western order, tasking her with leading a post-Brexit Europe. "It's a new symbol of the awakening of the peoples of Europe".

Months after the Nazi lady lost to Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential election, centrist German chancellor Angela Merkel is anticipating a win in Sunday's election.

Merkel was born Angela Dorothea Kasner in 1954 in the port city of Hamburg.

Stasi secret police while also staying clear of risky pro-democracy activism. "But we mustn't forget that we have just completed an extraordinarily challenging legislative period, so I am happy that we reached the strategic goals of our election campaign", Ms. Merkel said.

The move, which has been described as "Merkelvellian", kicked off her meteoric rise.

The 63-year-old German leader and her CDU party have led in the Bundestag for more than a decade.

  • Jack Mann