The Latest: Czech PM: German far-right backers shortsighted

The Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on the outcome of Germany’s national election (all times local):

4:35 p.m.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is condemning people who are celebrating the strong showing of a far-right, anti-immigrant party in Germany’s national election.

Sobotka said on Twitter on Monday that those reveling in Alternative for Germany’s third-place finish are being shortsighted.

He says about AfD: “Today they attack the refugees and the EU, tomorrow they will target the Czechs and Poles.”

The party received 12.6 percent support in Sunday’s election and will enter the German parliament for the first time.

Former Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a renowned euro-skeptic, supported AfD in its election campaign. He welcomed the election result, calling it a “huge encouragement for all Czech and European democrats.”


2:35 p.m.

A senior figure in the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany says party co-leader Frauke Petry should quit, amid deepening infighting a day after its strong showing in national elections.

Petry, who is co-chairwoman of AfD, announced Monday that she won’t join its new parliamentary caucus and walked out of a news conference.

She’s been sidelined in the party recently after arguing that AfD needs to take a more moderate line if it wants to share power rather than just oppose the government.

Alice Weidel, who was one of AfD’s two figureheads going into Sunday’s vote, said Petry’s walkout “is hard to beat in terms of irresponsibility.”

News agency dpa quoted Weidel as urging Petry to leave the party “to prevent further harm.”

AfD received 12.6 percent support in the election.


2:30 p.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says she can’t say when a new German government will be in place, but that her country isn’t “the most urgent case” in Europe.

Merkel faces a complicated task to form a new government after Sunday’s election. Her existing coalition partner has said it will go into opposition and she will now explore a three-way alliance with two new partners. The haggling could take weeks or even months.

Merkel noted Monday that the Netherlands still doesn’t have a new government, months after its election, “so I’m not the most urgent case.”

She added: “I will assure my colleagues that Germany will act responsibly in the phase in which we are in transition.”

Merkel made clear that she is not aiming for a new election after Sunday’s result.


2:20 p.m.

The leaders of Poland’s conservative ruling party have welcomed the results of the German election, which pave the way for a fourth term for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo sent a congratulatory note to Merkel on Monday saying another Merkel-led coalition “will serve the citizens of Germany, European integration and the strengthening of good relations with Poland.”

Ryszard Czarnecki, a top member of the ruling Law and Justice party, welcomed the trouncing of the Social Democratic Party under Martin Schulz, who has been a critic of Poland’s political direction under Law and Justice.

A pro-government weekly, W Sieci, also welcomed as “good news” that the anti-immigration Alliance for Germany (AfD) will enter parliament, saying it might signal “the start of true democracy in our western neighbor.”


1:50 p.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says a nationalist party that surged into Germany’s parliament won’t have any influence on the country’s foreign, European and refugee policies.

Alternative for Germany, or AfD, took third place in Sunday’s German election following a campaign that centered on harsh criticism of Merkel and her decision to let in large numbers of migrants. Other parties have refused to work with it.

Asked whether AfD’s performance will affect German policy in any way, Merkel replied Monday: “I don’t think so.”

She added: “The parties that are capable of forming coalitions with each other will seek solutions — there are of course differences … but AfD will have no influence.”


1:45 p.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is stressing that Germany needs a stable government and says other parties have a responsibility to ensure it gets one.

Merkel’s conservatives emerged as the biggest party from Sunday’s German election, but with fewer lawmakers than previously. Their coalition partners of the past four years, the center-left Social Democrats, said after they were heavily defeated that they will go into opposition.

That leaves Merkel pursuing a three-way alliance with the pro-business Free Democratic Party and the traditionally left-leaning Greens.

Merkel said Monday that her party will seek to talk to all three parties. She said: “It is important that Germany gets a good, stable government.”

She said she can’t say more until the talks have taken place.


11:30 a.m.

A German business leader is calling on the country’s politicians to form a stable government after a complicated election result.

Conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel’s junior partners in the outgoing government, the center-left Social Democrats, vowed to go into opposition after Sunday’s election. That leaves her facing lengthy talks with the pro-business Free Democrats and traditionally left-leaning Greens to form a new, previously untried coalition.

Eric Schweitzer, the head of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said Monday: “In these difficult times, and this is a central issue for business, we need a stable government.”

Germany enjoys healthy economic growth and low unemployment. Schweitzer said that “the economic situation is good, no question about that, but companies are concerned about whether it will stay that way.”


11 a.m.

A top official with the nationalist Alternative for Germany says Jews have nothing to fear from his party’s third-place election finish that took it into parliament.

The comments Monday from co-leader Alexander Gauland came after several major Jewish groups expressed dismay and concern Sunday about the strong showing of Alternative for Germany, or AfD. The Anti-Defamation League also called the AfD result a “disturbing milestone,” saying “its leaders have made anti-Semitic statements and played down the evil of the Nazi regime.”

Gauland told reporters, however, “there is nothing in our party, in our program, that could disturb the Jewish people who live here in Germany.”

He added that he hadn’t met with Jewish leaders, but was “ready at any time” to do so.


10:50 a.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-left challenger is promising to provide “strong opposition” after a crushing election defeat.

Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats won 20.5 percent of the vote Sunday, their worst result since World War II, and immediately vowed to leave the conservative Merkel’s “grand coalition” of Germany’s traditionally dominant parties.

Schulz said Monday its performance calls for it “to be a strong opposition in this country.”

He told supporters: “In a democracy, opposition is perhaps even a more decisive force than the government. It is the opposition that shows the government what it’s doing wrong.”

Schulz said the Social Democrats, who have lost four consecutive elections, are “the party that accepts its defeats, deals with them and turns them around to become the strongest force in this country in the future.”


10:40 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron has congratulated German Chancellor Angela Merkel on winning a fourth term.

Macron said on Twitter he had a phone call with Merkel overnight.

He wrote: “We will resolutely continue our cooperation that is essential for Europe and our countries.”

Macron is expected to make a big speech on Tuesday to present his detailed proposals to reform the European Union.

Sunday’s election saw Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc comes first in Germany’s election. The vote also showed the rise of a nationalist, anti-migrant party.


9:20 a.m.

A leader of the nationalist Alternative for Germany has laid open differences inside the party after it surged to third place in Germany’s election, announcing she won’t join its new parliamentary caucus.

Frauke Petry is the co-chairwoman of Alternative for Germany, or AfD, but has increasingly been sidelined by other leaders over recent months. AfD was particularly successful in Petry’s home region of Saxony in Sunday’s election, and Petry herself won a seat.

Petry has said she wants to make the party ready for government in 2021, while others have made clear their priority is no-holds-barred opposition.

Petry said at a news conference Monday with other leaders: “An anarchic party … can be successful in opposition, but it cannot make voters a credible offer for government.” Petry said she wouldn’t join AfD’s parliamentary caucus, and walked out without taking questions.


8:40 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was embarking Monday on a complicated quest to form a new government for Europe’s biggest economy and find answers to the rise of a nationalist, anti-migrant party.

Sunday’s election left Merkel’s conservative Union bloc weakened after a campaign that focused squarely on Germany’s leader of the past 12 years. However, the result leaves no other party able to lead a new government, and Merkel herself lacks any obvious internal challenger.

The center-left Social Democrats — Merkel’s partners since 2013 in a “grand coalition” of Germany’s two traditionally dominant parties — vowed to go into opposition after a heavy defeat.

Caucus leader Thomas Oppermann doubled down on that pledge Monday, saying that “we will not conduct coalition talks, because voters have decided that the Social Democrats’ place is in opposition.”

“All of us, all the parties have the responsibility of giving this country a stable government,” Peter Tauber, the general secretary of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told ZDF television. “And a coalition can only be successful if it is able to make compromises.”

Germany has no tradition of minority governments, and Merkel has already made clear she doesn’t want to try that option — which would in any case be a tall order, as her bloc has only 246 of the new parliament’s 709 seats.

That means the only politically plausible option is a three-way coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats and the traditionally left-leaning Greens. The combination, called a “Jamaica” coalition because the parties’ colors match those of the Caribbean nation’s flag, hasn’t been tried in a national government.

Merkel faces lengthy talks to secure an alliance with parties that have a tradition of mutual suspicion as well as differences on issues such as migration, European financial policy and the auto industry’s future.

At the same time, she faces pressure from conservative allies for an effective response to the third-place finish of Alternative for Germany, or AfD, which entered parliament for the first time after a campaign that centered on harsh criticism of Merkel and her 2015 decision to allow in large numbers of migrants.

AfD took voters from Merkel’s bloc and to a lesser extent from the Social Democrats, while also mobilizing large numbers of people who didn’t previously vote.

“Of course I want to win back everyone who voted for AfD and previously voted for us,” Tauber said. “To do that, we have to confront AfD clearly and show that we have the better answers.”


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