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German Chancellor Angela Merkel returns on the stage at the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union CDU in Berlin. Photo: Michael Sohn / AP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's election to a fourth term was marred by a bigger-than-expected success for her nationalist opponents — the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany, which own 13% of the vote, pulling it in at third place. Merkel's party now has its worst showing in the Bundestag since 1949, per CNN. The AfD capitalized on Germany's refugee crisis and will surge into the Bundestag as the first substantial rightwing populist party since the Nazis during the second world war, per the Financial Times (paywalled).

How we got here, via by Wall Street Journal's Marcus Walker in Berlin: "German Results Reflect European Unease Over Identity, Economy": "Germany's election result confirms the overriding trend of European politics in the past year: the crumbling of the Continent's established parties in the face of voter anxiety over economics and identity."

  • "The fragmented vote mirrors this year's elections in other Continental European countries including France and the Netherlands. Established parties have suffered steep losses, especially on the center left, and voters have turned to upstarts on the nationalist right, the anticapitalist left or the liberal center."
  • Why it matters: "The upheavals partly reflect the fallout of a decade marked by economic, security and immigration crises that have tested the cohesion of the European Union."
  • "The future direction of the EU and its major nations is now up for grabs in a fluid contest between internationalists and nationalists, incumbents and insurgents."

Be smart: The nationalist and populist wave that produced Brexit and President Trump had faltered in recent European elections, but persists in ways that the establishment hasn't yet fully reckoned with. Merkel's take: "There's a big new challenge for us, and that is the entry of the AfD in the Bundestag...We want to win back AfD voters," she said Sunday.

Go deeper: There's internal dissent in AfD, and AfD's chairwoman, Frauke Petry, walked out of a press conference that was intended to celebrate the success. There's no certainty about whether Merkel will be building a coalition via a deal with the FDP and the Greens.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.