What the Big Jolt to Germany's Merkel Means to US, Russia, Greece

Chancellor Angela Merkel got down to work yesterday in the fractured political landscape left by Germany's "earthquake" election, seeking a ruling majority to help neutralise a newly empowered hard right.

Many Germans see the rise of the AfD as a similar rejection of the status quo as votes for Brexit and Donald Trump a year ago.

One of the most prominent figures in the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party said on Tuesday she plans to leave it - a move that displayed tensions as other lawmakers from the anti-migrant party gathered for their first meeting after a strong showing at the polls.

One of AfD's leaders, Alice Weidel, said it will provide "constructive opposition". Oddly, the AfD picked up much support from regions comprising former East Germany, even though those areas have fewer immigrants. Meanwhile, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), a populist right-wing party founded in 2013, garnered 12.6 percent of the vote, making it the third-largest party in the Bundestag and the first extreme right-wing party to have seats in the Bundestag since the Deutsche Partei's exit in the 1960s.

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The question now is whether other world leaders, including those with whom she has clashed - Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump - will see her as significantly weakened by Sunday's result.

But co-leader Alexander Gauland struck a harsher tone, vowing that "we will take our country back" and promising to "chase" Merkel. The Social Democrats (SPD) scored their worst numbers in a German general election since 1949, netting only 20.5 percent of the vote.

Lindner said his party would only enter government "if there are major changes in German politics - that's our mandate from our voters".

Another map based on the second vote share for the AfD shows that most of the party's support was in the east of Germany. The SPD's collapse is consistent with a deep crisis that has engulfed many of Europe's social democratic parties in recent elections from the Netherlands to France. Merkel likely has no option but to seek a coalition with the Greens and the pro-business Free Democratic Party.

As for the USA, most German experts we spoke to don't believe a different kind of government will change Merkel's relationship with President Trump.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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