In September German Chancellor Angela Merkel won an underwhelming election victory. Her opponents lost more than she won, but observers still expected her to put together a new three-party coalition to replace the shopworn “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats. But coalition talks collapsed dramatically, and the most predictable of political systems headed into the unknown.
The poll was a disaster for the two traditional governing parties, the Christian Democratic Union (its sister party, the Christian Social Union, runs only in Bavaria), and Social Democratic Party. Both suffered their worst result since the nation’s founding in 1949 as seven parties entered the Bundestag.
Many of the CDU/CSU’s traditional conservative voters backed the Alternative for Germany, which collected almost 13 percent. The AfD ran against mass immigration and reflected the cultural alienation of many voters.