LIVEWIRE: Germany Federal Elections 2017 Results

Meanwhile, she saw off one potential line of attack for more liberal parties by allowing a parliamentary vote in the summer to legalize gay marriage in Germany, though she herself voted against.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has claimed a mandate to form a new German government with her conservative bloc.

Following the publication of the exit poll results, Merkel gave a speech vowing to win back voters from the AfD. The AfD's 13.5% in the exit poll means it stands to become the main opposition party in the lower house, the Bundestag.

But his surge quickly faded and he failed to convince voters to turn their backs on Europe's longest-serving leader, who projected herself as a force for stability in a world buffeted by concerns from North Korea's atomic weapons program to uncertainty over the U.S. direction under Trump.

Top AfD candidate Alexander Gauland has called for Germans to shed their guilt over two world wars and the Holocaust and to take pride in their veterans. Addressing euphoric party members at the party's Berlin headquarters, he pledged that his party would change Germany.

"This is a big day in our party's history. But we mustn't forget that we have just completed an extraordinarily challenging legislative period, so I am happy that we reached the strategic goals of our election campaign", Merkel said.

The election has been seen by many as a referendum on the controversial migration policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel during the height of the migrant crisis in 2015 when she allowed over a million migrants into the country. It was the first national election since the crisis. The SPD was down by nearly 5%. Back in 2013, the party failed to clear the 5-percent threshold and did not enter the Bundestag.

"Of course we had hoped for a slightly better result". Apart from the challenge of the AfD, the task ahead is "first and foremost to ensure economic prosperity" and "to hold the European Union together and build a strong Europe", she said.

The results followed a campaign that had been decidedly tiresome, with the CDU/CSU and SPD appearing determined to avoid tackling the emotions triggered by the refugee crisis, while the AfD ensured the issue was at the top of their campaign agenda, often addressing concerns such as the impact that Muslim migrants are perceived as having on German society.

In the last Bundestag election of 2013, Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party with its sister Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) party secured 41.5 percent of the vote. "Today is a hard and bitter day for social democracy in Germany", he said, adding that the party had "failed in our election purpose" and had not managed to mobilise the party's traditional base.

The elections were successful for the Free Democrats (FDP), who will now enter parliament with 10.5 percent support.

The prospect of a coalition involving the Greens might weigh on stocks in the auto sector at the opening on Monday, while lengthy talks to form a government could threaten to drag on the euro. She said Germany has to take the fears of its people seriously.

Q&A What is a Jamaica coalition in German politics?

For all their ideological differences, both the Greens and Free Democrats want to be in power, so "will make an effort to agree", Famke Krumbmueller, a partner at political-risk consultancy OpenCitiz, said by phone.

The name derives from the fact that the colours symbolising the three parties involved - black for the CDU, yellow for the FDP, and green for the Green Party, are also the colours of the Jamaican national flag.

  • Jon Douglas