German Chancellor Angela Merkel who is often called the most powerful woman in the world, has been re-elected for a fourth term.
Official results gave Merkel 33 percent share of the vote, making her one of only three postwar chancellors elected to a fourth term.
Her historic victory was, however, clouded by the entry into parliament of the hard-right AfD who managed to secure a bigger vote than most pollsters forecast.
Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, saw its worst result in almost 70 years although the coalition will remain the largest in parliament.
Its nearest rivals, the Social Democrats, and their candidate Martin Schulz, came in a distant second, with 21 percent.
The AfD won its first seats with 13 percent of the votes and is set to be the third biggest party in parliament. It was the best showing for a nationalist force since World War II, sparking some protests across the country.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the right-wing, anti-Islam, anti-immigration party’s headquarters in Berlin on Sunday night, with placards saying “Refugees are welcome” and “Nazi Out!” chants. Protests were also held in several other cities, including Frankfurt and Cologne.
Political commentators called the AfD’s strong performance a “watershed moment” in Germany’s history. Famous newspaper, Bild daily, described it as a “political earthquake”.
Speaking to supporters after her victory, Mrs. Merkel, who has been on the job for 12 years, said she had hoped for a “better result”.
“We fought for Germany that lives happily and well,” Merkel said at the CDU headquarters.
She added that she would listen to the “concerns, worries and anxieties” of voters of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in order to win them back.
Angela Merkel also said her government would have to deal with economic and security issues as well as addressing the root causes of migration – one of the main reasons behind the AfD’s result.
“Today we can say that we now have a mandate to assume responsibility and we’re going to assume this responsibility calmly, talking with our partners of course.”
Merkel is blamed indirectly by some in Germany for the rise of the AfD, which until her 2015 open-door policy for war refugees from the Middle East appeared to be in decline.
In addition to her immigration policy, resentment was building against her, over her handling of the debt crisis in southern Europe and the increasing social inequality in Germany.
Her poll ratings, however, increased after Donald Trump won the United States elections and U.K. voters voted for Brexit. German voters, seeing the turbulence created in those countries, chose to go with the more reliable and safe option as the 63-year-old warned the people not to indulge in “experiments”.
French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to congratulate Merkel. He promised that the two key European partners would keep up their “essential cooperation”.