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Joerg Meuthen (R), leader of AfD, with Jörg Urban (C), AfD's main candidate, and Beatrix von Storch (L), parliamentarian of AfD, at an election night party in Saxony on Sept. 1. Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) came up short of victory in eastern state elections in Saxony and Brandenburg on Sunday, but still finished with its highest vote share ever, Politico reports.

Why it matters: The anti-immigrant, nationalist AfD is one of several far-right parties across Europe that have made significant gains at the expense of the political establishment, including in May's European Parliament elections. Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) remained the strongest party in Saxony with about 32%, while the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) held onto first place in Brandenburg with 27.2%, according to initial results.

  • Worth noting: The results are being viewed as a victory for AfD, but all parties have sworn not to work with the far right in a coalition government. That could be a difficult promise to keep, however, with vote share dispersed across a number of smaller parties.

The big picture: The state elections are being viewed as a crucial test for Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK), the hand-picked successor to Merkel. A series of missteps have Germans — including some in AKK's own party — questioning her leadership. Her CDU has become especially vulnerable with AfD chipping away at its popularity in recent elections.

Saxony result projections
  • CDU: 32.3% (-7.2% from 2014)
  • AfD: 27.8% (+18.1%)
  • The Left: 10.3% (-8.6%)
  • Greens: 8.6% (+2.9%)
  • SPD: 7.6% (-4.8%)
  • Free Democratic Party: 4.8% (+1%)
Brandenburg result projections
  • SPD: 27% (-4.9% from 2014)
  • AfD: 23.8% (+7.3%)
  • CDU: 15.5% (-7.3%)
  • The Left: 10.4% (-8%)
  • Greens: 10.2% (+4.3%)
  • Free Democratic Party: 4.7% (+3.2%)

Go deeper: More early election analysis from Politico

Go deeper

GOP operatives accused of funneling Russian cash to Trump

Jesse Benton, spokesman for the Ron Paul campaign, speaking to reporters in the spin room after the CNN Debate on January 1, 2012. Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

A former senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul was indicted this month for allegedly funneling $25,000 from a wealthy, unnamed Russian to former President Trump's reelection efforts.

The big picture: The Justice Department alleges that Jesse Benton, 43, the husband of Paul's niece and a veteran Republican staffer, orchestrated a scheme to conceal the illegal foreign donation with another GOP operative, Doug Wead.

Biden to raise refugee admissions cap to 125,000

Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles International Airport after being evacuated from Kabul. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden administration will raise the refugee admissions cap to 125,000 for the next fiscal year beginning in October, the State Department confirmed in a statement Monday.

Why it matters: The move comes as the U.S. contends with resettling tens of thousands of Afghan refugees stateside, and as the world faces "unprecedented global displacement and humanitarian needs," the department wrote.

Wall Street's wobble disrupts record stock market boom

People walk by the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Monday interrupted a stretch of calm amid the historic stock market boom underway since March 2020.

Driving the news: Jitters were apparent nearly everywhere.