“As for the good results of the populists and the right- wing, it’s remarkable and regrettable,” she told a news conference yesterday. “The question is how we win over voters. This is also the case for France,” she said. “I think a course that focuses on competitiveness, growth and jobs is the best answer to the disappointment.”
Eurosceptic parties scored major victories in France, Britain, Greece, and other EU countries on Sunday.
In Germany, the anti-euro Alternative for Germany, founded only a year ago, won 7% of the vote.
Ms Merkel said the results were unlikely to have a major impact on the functioning of institutions like the European Parliament, which will continue to be dominated by mainstream parties. “It will be more about pursuing policies that resonate with the people,” said the chancellor, whose conservative bloc emerged as the strongest party grouping in Germany.
David McAllister, who led the campaign for Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats in Germany, offered strong backing for Jean-Claude Juncker as the next president of the European Commission, calling him a “convinced and convincing European”.
But Ms Merkel was more cautious, praising the former Luxembourg prime minister for his campaign as lead candidate for the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) but also making clear that extensive talks would be needed to finalise the top Commission job.
Preliminary results showed the EPP winning 214 seats, compared to 189 for the second-place Socialists. That still leaves the EPP well shy of the 376 seats needed to secure a majority.
At a separate news conference, head of the German Social Democrats Sigmar Gabriel, called on the EPP to end co-operation with Hungary’s Fidesz party and Italy’s Forza Italia.