Merkel wins fourth term as German far-right party makes gains

Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images(BERLIN) — German voters rewarded Angela Merkel’s center-right party in national elections on Sunday, sending the chancellor to a record fourth term as one of Europe’s key leaders.

Germany’s far right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, however, scored higher than expected, with dozens of lawmakers from the party voted into the country’s national Parliament, or Bundestag. The gains could potentially be disruptive to politics in Germany, the largest economy in Europe.

Exit polls conducted for public television channels ARD and ZDF suggest Merkel’s conservative bloc finished first in Germany’s election, with between 32.5 and 33.5 percent in Sunday’s vote.

Polling indicates challenger Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats trailed in second place, with between 20 and 21 percent support. The polls also suggested that the anti-migrant, nationalist AfD party will enter the national parliament — for the first time — with 13 to 13.5 percent support.

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