Angela Merkel casts ballot
Angela Merkel casts ballotREUTERS

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to win a fourth term in Germany’s federal election Sunday, with exit polls showing the center-right Conservative Democratic Union/Christian Social Union winning 32.5% of the vote and retaining its position as Germany’s largest party.

According to the ARD exit poll, the SPD, Germany’s social democratic party and the current coalition partner in Merkel’s government, is on track to win 20-21% of the popular vote.

A nationalist, anti-European Union party, the AfD, beat expectations and is likely to win 13.5% of the vote, marking the first time the party has ever enjoyed parliamentary representation since its founding in 2013.

Both Merkel’s CDU/CSU and the SPD saw significant declines Sunday compared to the 2013 election, which gave the CDU/CSU 41.5% of the vote, and the SPD 25.7%.

Following the publication of the exit polls Sunday, the SPD declared it would not be a partner in Merkel’s next government, The Guardian reported.

Given her own party’s decline and the rise of the AfD, the SPD’s declaration leaves Merkel with few options for forming a viable coalition.

The center-right FDP, a classical liberal faction which failed to top Germany’s 5% electoral threshold in 2013, more than doubled its vote share, rising to 10.5%. The FDP’s return to the Bundestag offers Merkel one path towards a majority coalition, though the FDP and CDU/CSU are unlikely to win enough seats to form a two-party majority, likely forcing Merkel to look to the Greens, expected to win just under 10%, to make up the difference.

Initial projections indicate the CDU/CSU is likely to win 239 seats in the Bundestag, compared to the 311 it won in 2013. The SPD, which won 193 seats last election, will likely emerge with just 150. The AfD, which did pass the 5% threshold in 2013, is projected to win 94 seats, while the FDP is expected to win 77.

The Greens are now projected to gain 2 seats, rising from 63 to 65, while the far-left Die Linke (The Left) gains a single seat, rising from 64 seats to 65.