By securing 32.5 percent of the vote on Sunday, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) will keep control of the government. Merkel is set to enter her fourth term as chancellor. Using slogans such as “Clear for Stability,” the centrist party sought to distance itself from the whirlwind political events in nations such as the United States and Great Britain, both of which experienced cataclysmic votes (Trump and Brexit, respectively) that have thrown their political cultures into absolute disarray.
There is, however, a particularly disturbing aspect of Sunday’s vote that could herald trouble on the horizon. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) won 13.5 percent of the vote, meaning that the radical right-wing, rabidly anti-immigrant party will be the first of its kind to enter the Bundestag since WWII.
Not only will AfD have representation in Germany’s national legislature, but the party will maintain the third largest presence after CDU and the center-left Social Democrats, who only secured 20 percent of the vote.
The AfD – which started primarily as a euroskeptic party dismayed at German bailouts of struggling EU partners – has evolved into a nativist party similiar to the National Front in France and the Dutch Party for Freedom. When Merkel opened Germany’s doors to scores of migrants fleeing conflict in the Middle East in 2015, the far-right party surged in popularity, staging large demonstrations across Germany.
Now in possession of a small degree of government power (the party will have somewhere between 60 and 85 seats in Bundestag), the AfD is vowing to shake up the consensual nature of legislative debate in Germany.
While Merkel has – in no uncertain terms – stated that she will not work with he AfD, they now represent a very real political force in the halls of power. How she handles this menacing presence in what may be her final four years at the helm of Germany remains to be seen.