The German voters certainly spoke in last month’s general election, but the establishment in Berlin is having a difficult time coming to terms with what they said.
The right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), winning 12.6 percent of the vote, became the third-largest party in the German parliament by securing 94 of the 700-odd Bundestag seats. In states that used to be East Germany, the AfD got 20.5% of the vote, second after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).
The election result was not only a big breakthrough for the AfD — created just four years ago — but also a historic debacle for the two major parties that have dominated the country’s post-war political landscape for almost seven decades.
Chancellor Merkel’s conservative CDU, with 33% of the vote, suffered its worst election result since 1949, and so did the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the world’s oldest Socialist party, with 20.5% of the vote.
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