Angela Merkel

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State elections in Germany offer limited relief for Berlin

Brandenburg politicians walking outside
Brandeburg State Secretary for the Interior and Local Government Katrin Lange (SPD) and CDU Brandenburg State Chairman Ingo Senftleben leave exploratory coalition talks. Photo: Monika Skolimowska/picture alliance via Getty Images

The results of two state elections in the former East Germany on Sunday cast a troublesome picture for the region — confirming fatigue with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Grand Coalition government in Berlin and signaling further political fragmentation.

The big picture: Both major parties — the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) — lost voters but managed to hold the line against the far-right, xenophobic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. They will now seek to form a majority and build a coalition with parties other than the AfD, making the right-wing populists the largest opposition party in Brandenburg and Saxony.

German far-right party posts best-ever results in key state elections

AfD election night party
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.