Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc won 35.5 percent, the least since voters began choosing European Union lawmakers in 1979, according to ARD projections based on initial returns late yesterday. The Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, which wants to dismantle the currency union, took an estimated 7 percent for its first seats in any election.
The Social Democrats, Merkel’s coalition partner, won 27.2 percent after an all-time low of 20.8 percent in 2009. The party campaigned for the EU socialist candidate, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who is vying to head the European Commission.
“While the right is causing tremors in France and the U.K., Germany’s results mirror the island of political and economic self-satisfaction that it is,” Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING Group NV in Brussels, said by phone. “It’s an endorsement of the status quo.”
Merkel’s victory reflects her popularity after steering Germany through the debt crisis, even as the anti-euro party’s incursion underscores the frustration of a swath of voters with three years of bailouts to indebted nations. Merkel almost won an absolute majority in national elections last year with more than 41 percent of the vote.
“We won a clear victory, which means that Angela Merkel won a clear victory,” David McAllister, the CDU’s lead candidate, told supporters at party headquarters in Berlin.
Merkel’s tally was 2.4 percentage points lower than five years ago. Most of the loss was due to the allied Christian Social Union, which ran its own campaign in Bavaria.
The Greens took 10.7 percent, down from 12.1 percent five years ago; the anti-capitalist Left Party was little changed at 7.5 percent. The pro-business Free Democrats, ejected from German parliament in last year’s election after serving as Merkel’s coalition partner for four years, hit a new low with 3.3 percent. In 2009, they had 11 percent support.
Bernd Lucke, the AfD’s leader, said his party will take aim at Europe’s bank-resolution system, set up to help stabilize the euro area’s financial system.
“One can try to change all kinds of things, but in order to do that, you need a political climate in which the dangers from banking union are recognized,” Lucke said at an interview at a party rally in Berlin after the election.
Merkel used a monthlong campaign for European elections to showcase her defense of Germany’s interests in the debt crisis as well as her management of the turmoil in Ukraine. The chancellor eased her tone against Russia during the campaign, beginning with threats of further sanctions to expressing optimism that that the standoff can be resolved through talks.
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