Three-way coalition likely in Berlin after state elections

Three-way coalition likely in Berlin after state elections

A three-way coalition of Social Democrats, the Green Party and the Left Party seems likely in the Berlin state legislature, after Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party endured a set-back in local elections in the German capital, official results showed.

While the Social Democrats (SPD) and Ms Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU) emerged from the Berlin election as the two strongest parties, both lost support to parties further to the left and right, meaning they will not be able to continue a coalition government.

The SPD received 21.6%, dropping 6.7 points, while the CDU received 17.6%, down 5.7 points.

The anti-capitalist Left Party, a descendant of the former East German communists, gained 3.9 points to 15.6%; the Green Party received 15.2%, down by 2.4 percentage points.

The nationalist anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany ( AfD) easily entered its 10th state parliament with 14.2% of the vote.

The election also saw the Pirate Party voted out of state parliament, and the pro-business Free Democratic Party winning 6.7% of the vote - enough to bring it back into parliament.

Voter participation rose to 66.9% from 60.2% in the last election, and three-year-old AfD drew a lot of its support from new voters, though it was also able to attract supporters from the SPD, the CDU and other parties.

The vote comes two weeks after Ms Merkel's CDU was beaten into third place in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania by the AfD, following a campaign in which the chancellor's decision to open Germany's borders to migrants last year featured prominently.

Sunday's showing - her party's worst ever in the capital - will keep up the pressure on the chancellor a year ahead of general elections.

However, it was largely local issues that drove the vote in the city of 3.5 million. Among other things, disillusionment is high over the capital's notoriously inefficient bureaucracy and issues such as years of delays in opening its new airport.

Political analyst Hans Joachim Funke said that Sunday's result "weakens the Berlin CDU tremendously, but it doesn't weaken the position of the government, the grand coalition, on a federal level".

Nationally, Ms Merkel's CDU is in a so-called grand coalition with its Bavaria-only sister-party CSU and the Social Democrats.

Ms Merkel is widely expected to seek a fourth term in next year's election, though she still has not declared her hand. Three more state elections take place next spring.

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