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Saxony

CDU rules out euroskeptic AfD for Saxony partner

The center-right Christian Democrats have won the election in Saxony, but will need a partner to form a government. They have ruled out a coalition with the euroskeptic Alternative for Germany.

Although the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) won Saxony's elections by a landslide over the weekend, the center-right party was left searching for a coalition partner on Monday, after the Free Democrats failed to secure enough votes to enter the regional parliament.

Saxony's state premier, Stanislaw Tillich, put to rest speculation that the CDU might opt to form a coalition with the euroskeptic Alternative for Germany (AfD), which won representation in a state parliament for the first time with 9.7 percent of the vote. The AfD has attracted many voters dissatisfied with the CDU's shift to the left in recent years.

"We will search for a coalition partner with whom we can achieve something for the state," Tillich told German public broadcaster ARD. "That's certainly not the AfD."

In a press conference on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the AfD's success at the polls was largely thanks to protest votes.

"We can stop this protest, if we - as the Union, as the CDU - speak to and solve the issues that mobilize the people on the ground," the chancellor said.

Having won 39.4 percent of the vote, the CDU could opt to form a coalition with either the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) or the Greens. The SPD won 12.4 percent of the vote, while the Greens secured 5.7 of the ballots. Although the socialist Left party actually came in second place with 18.9 percent, both the CDU and SPD view the party as too radical to be a viable coalition partner.

Less then half of those eligible to vote cast their ballots on Sunday.

Right-wing NPD ousted from parliament

The pro-business, pro-civil liberties Free Democratic Party (FDP) continued its long decline, winning only 3.8 percent of the vote, well short of the 5 percent needed to enter the regional parliament. Germany's liberals are now represented in only eight of the country's 16 regional parliaments. The FDP was ousted from the federal parliament in 2013.

Meanwhile, the extreme right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD) lost its seats in Saxony's parliament, winning 4.95 percent of the vote. The NPD is now only represented in the state legislature of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Germany's mainstream parties accuse the NPD of being a neo-Nazi organization and have pushed for it to be banned.

slk/mkg (dpa, Reuters)

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