BERLIN: Germany’s conservatives led by Chancellor Angela Merkel have emerged as the biggest winner in the country’s vote to the European Parliament (EP), exit polls showed on Sunday.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which are part of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) in the EP, won the largest share of vote with 36.1 percent, according to an exit poll by Germany’s ARD public television shortly after polling stations closed at 6 p.m. local time.
The CDU/CSU bloc was followed by the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which belongs to EP’s center-left Party of European Socialists (PES). It received 27.6 percent support, narrowing the gap with the conservatives by around 8.5 percent compared to the previous elections in 2009.
The Green party and the Left Party captured 10.9 percent and 7.8 percent respectively. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) suffered a collapse by taking only 3.1 percent, losing around 8 percent on last elections.
Besides the major parties, attention was also focused on the smaller political parties as Germany’s top court ruled in February that they no longer need a minimum of 3 percent of ballots to win EP seats.
The eurosceptic party of Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), which wants powers to be handed back from Brussels to national parliaments, scored 6.5 percent of the vote and thus secured seats in their first EP election.
The AfD is the newest arrival on Germany’s political landscape. The party narrowly missed out on entering the country’s parliament at the September 22 general election.
Voters cast ballots on Sunday to decide on the 96 EP seats allocated to Germany as the largest member state of the European Union. A total of 25 parties and political associations were standing for the election.
Official provisional results of the vote are expected late Sunday night or early Monday morning. Early indications showed the voter turnout in Germany could be slightly higher than that of the 2009 elections. PNA