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In final push, Merkel seeks to reach undecided German voters

In final push, Merkel seeks to reach undecided German voters

The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party will enter parliament for the first time in its history with around 13 percent of the vote in the German parliamentary election, exit polls show.

Merkel is seeking a fourth term in office and her conservative bloc of the Christian Democratic Party and Bavarian-only Christian Social union has a healthy lead in the polls.

Her CDU has since 2013 governed in a "grand coalition" with the SPD, but many in the center-left party are unwilling to repeat the exercise, believing that their party needs a spell in opposition in order to rediscover its objective and present a more original message to the electorate by the time of the next vote.

Data released by German authority showed that as of 2:00 p.m. local time (1200 GMT), 41.1 percent of eligible voters cast their votes.

The chancellor made it clear that she would prefer to not form a minority government, at a time of major worldwide and domestic challenges. Der Spiegelreports, AfD is the "first overtly right-wing party to win seats in the country's federal parliament in over half a century".

But in a bombshell for the German establishment, the anti-Islam, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) captured around 13 percent, making it the country's third biggest political force.

"There's no guilt but there's always responsibility, and now we're going to have 90, I think it's up to 90, well I say openly racist people, in the Bundestag".

If confirmed, the result would be a clear lead for Merkel but not a storming victory.

After shock election results past year, from the Brexit vote to the election of US President Donald Trump, leaders of Europe's establishment have looked to Merkel to rally the liberal Western order.

The final election results are expected early Monday, German time, but are not expected to deviate greatly from Sunday's projections.

AfD capitalized on discontent with established politicians but particularly targeted those angry over the influx of more than 1 million mostly Muslim migrants into Germany in the past two years under Merkel.

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Another big victor Sunday was the pro-business Free Democratic Party, which was set to return to parliament with some 10.5 per cent of the vote.

Crowds of people have in the meantime gathered in front of the AfD HQ in Berlin, carrying banners reading "Racism kills" and chanting "Go away".

Calling the AfD a "party of agitators" and "the enemies", Schulz said his Social Democrats were the best option to fight them.

Last January, one of AfD's prominent eastern German leaders, Bjoern Hoecke, called the Holocaust Memorial the "memorial of shame and suggested Germans should "make a 180-degree turn in their politics of commemoration".

The SPD also found it hard to shine after four years as the junior partner in Merkel's left-right "grand coalition", marked by broad agreement on major issues, from foreign policy to migration.

Following the publication of the exit poll results, Merkel gave a speech vowing to win back voters from the AfD.

That combination - known as a "Jamaica" coalition because the parties' colours match those of that Caribbean nation's flag - will have to overcome the traditional distrust between both the Free Democrats and the Greens and between parts of Merkel's conservative bloc and the Greens.

The traditionally left-leaning Greens were seen winning around 9.5 percent and the Left Party some 9 percent.

"We have suffered a crushing election defeat", Schulz said.

The Left Party is incompatible with the conservatives and all others have voted not to work with AfD.