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Merkel Hangs On In German Election But Far-Right Surges

BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in office on Sunday but will have to build an uneasy coalition to form a German government after her conservatives hemorrhaged support in the face of a surge by the far-right.

The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) stunned the establishment by winning 13.1 percent of the vote, a result that will bring a far-right party into parliament for the first time in more than half a century.

Merkel’s conservative bloc emerged as the largest parliamentary party but, with just 33.2 percent of the vote, saw its support slump to the lowest since 1949 – the first national post-war elections.

Merkel said the success of the far right was a test for Germans. It was important to listen to the concerns of their voters and win them back.

Founded in 2013 by an anti-euro group of academics, the AfD has surged as an anti-immigrant group in the wake of Merkel’s 2015 decision to leave German borders open to over 1 million migrants, most of them fleeing war in the Middle East.

The other parties elected to the Bundestag all refuse to work with the AfD, which says it will press for Merkel to be “severely punished” for opening the door to refugees and migrants.

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