Political News

The Latest: German nationalist AfD eyes 2017 federal vote

Posted September 19

— The Latest on Berlin state election (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

The nationalist Alternative for Germany is setting its sights on next year's federal election and aiming for a double-digit result.

The party narrowly missed clearing the 5-percent threshold to enter the national Parliament in 2013.

Since then, the party has shifted rightward and campaigned heavily against immigration. On Sunday it entered its 10th state assembly, receiving 14.2 percent in the German capital.

Party co-chairwoman Frauke Petry told reporters in Berlin that "of course we are on the countdown to the general election."

She cited recent opinion polls predicting the party could receive 14 to 15 percent at the national level.

Petry suggested that Alternative for Germany would be prepared to take on government responsibility from 2021 if it gets sufficient backing from voters.

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2:05 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says despite two recent state election setbacks for her party, she stands by her decisions last year in dealing with the flood of migrants into Europe, but also recognizes the need to address people's concerns.

Merkel's party finished second in the Berlin state election, but finished with only 17.6 percent of the vote, its worst ever showing in the capital.

She told reporters that she meant her mantra "Germany will manage" the migrant situation as encouragement, but that some people took it as a provocation.

She says she knows many disagree with her policies and she's prepared to discuss changes, but that if people simply don't want Muslim asylum-seekers because they are Muslim, that's counter to her Christian Democratic Party's basic principles, as well as Germany's.

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1:50 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she takes responsibility for her party's poor showing in Berlin state elections on the weekend.

Speaking Monday alongside her Christian Democratic Party's Berlin mayoral candidate Frank Henkel, Merkel called the election result "bitter."

She said though voters were dealing with many local issues, she conceded that her decision to open the borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants was also a factor, and "I take responsibility as party leader and chancellor."

She says among other things that she needs to work harder to explain her migrant policies.

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10:40 a.m.

A three-way coalition of Social Democrats, the Green Party and the Left Party seems likely in Berlin, after Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party endured a set-back in state elections in the German capital.

While the Social Democrats (SPD) and Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU) emerged from the Berlin election as the two strongest parties, both lost some support which means they won't be able to continue a coalition government, official results showed Monday.

The SPD received 21.6 percent, dropping 6.7 points, while the CDU received 17.6 percent, down 5.7 points.

Many voters drifted further to the left and right, with the Left Party climbing 3.9 points to 15.6 percent.

The nationalist anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, known as AfD, easily entered its 10th state parliament with 14.2 percent of the vote.

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