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Merkel wins fourth term, extreme right-wing party enters parliament for first time in 50 yearsEarlier today, Germans headed to their local polling station to cast their ballot and as expected, incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel will serve a fourth term after receiving 32% of the vote. Yet in addition to Merkel's predicted victory, AfD, an extreme right-wing party took 13% of the vote, clearing the parliament's 5% threshold requirement - a first in nearly 50 years.
According to early exit polls from Germany, Angela Merkel will likely serve a fourth term as Germany's Chancellor, as previously predicted. Merkel’s center-right party won 32% of the vote while its left-leaning sister party, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) won only 20% of the vote, its lowest point since World War II. Yet, since the required threshold for entering the Bundestag is 5%, for the first time in five decades, an extreme right-wing party will be returning to parliament as Germany’s far-right wing party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), took 13% of the vote.
While the AfD makes its mark as the third strongest party this election, three other parties are expected to enter the Bundestag: Merkel's natural coalition partner, FDP, with 10% of the vote, the Green Party with 9%, and the left-wing Die Linke also with 9%.
About 73,500 polling stations across the country opened to more than 61 million eligible voters starting at 8:00 AM local time, and closed at 6:00 PM. According to surveys conducted at the polls, the issues that preoccupy Germany’s voters the most are terrorism, refugees, social justice, pensions and foreign policy.
SPD leader Martin Schultz, Merkel’s main rival, posted a picture ballot on which he marked his party. "It's not enough - now it's up to you, you've got to go vote," he pleaded with his supporters via his Facebook page. However, even those who vote for him at the polls will not be able to prove so since taking photos of your vote, even selfies, is prohibited in Germany.
Nearly 600,000 volunteers will count the votes in the ballot boxes scattered across Germany’s 16 states. The formal establishment of the new government will take place within a month, at most, similar to the procedure in Israel: forming a coalition government comprised of several parties.
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