9/23/17, "Merkel hangs on to power but bleeds support to surging far right," Reuters, Paul Carrel, Maria Sheahan, Berlin
"German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in office on Sunday but Europe’s most powerful leader will have to govern with a far less stable coalition in a fractured parliament after her conservatives haemorrhaged support to a surging far right.
Two years after Merkel left German borders open to more than 1 million migrants, the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) stunned the establishment by becoming the first far-right party to enter parliament in more than half a century.
The AfD won 13.0 percent of the vote - more than expected and one of many shocks on a night of drama that saw Merkel’s conservatives get their worst result since 1949, and her main Social Democrat (SPD) rivals their worst since 1933.
Describing the far right’s success as a test for Germans, Merkel insisted she had a mandate to govern - a formidable challenge as she has little choice but to cobble together a three-way coalition with a pro-business group and the Greens.
“Of course we had hoped for a slightly better result,” a humbled Merkel said after her conservative bloc slumped to 32.9 percent of the vote - down from 41.5 percent at the last election in 2013.
But she added: “We are the strongest party, we have the mandate to build the next government - and there cannot be a coalition government built against us.”
The euro EUR=E4 slipped around 0.4 percent in early Asian trading as it became clear the results would make forming a coalition tricky for Merkel.
Coalition building could take months as Merkel’s only straightforward path to a majority in parliament would be a three-way tie-up with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens - an arrangement untested at national level."