THE EUROSCEPTIC Alternative for Germany (AfD) party appeared close to winning its first seats in a regional parliament west of the country yesterday, signalling a growing threat to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party which suffered a big defeat.
Exit polls from the city-state elections in Hamburg showed the AfD just above the five per cent threshold needed to enter the regional assembly.
If confirmed this morning, the result could help establish the anti-bailout party as a force beyond the former communist East, where it won seats in three regional votes last year.
The ruling Social Democratic party (SPD) won around 47 per cent of the votes, which were still being processed last night, leaving it just short of an overall majority.
To stay in office, SPD state premier and Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz will probably have to form a coalition with the Greens, who won 11.7 per cent of the votes.
Merkel's Christian Democrats Union (CDU) suffered its worst result since the Second World War, coming in a distant second at about 16 per cent.