Relief for Merkel after far-right falls short in key German election
The pressure on Angela Merkel eased last night as the nationalist Alternative for Germany party (AfD) failed to make a widely forecast breakthrough in key regional elections.
The AfD made significant gains in two states in the former communist east, but fell short of winning first place amid a late surge for the established parties.
Ms Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) held on to first place in Saxony with 32pc, according to initial projections, ahead of the AfD on 27.5pc.
Her main coalition partners, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), came first in Brandenburg, with 27.5pc, ahead of the AfD on 22.5pc.
Alexander Gauland, the AfD leader, said: "Our slogan was '20pc plus'. We have achieved that and are very satisfied... but yes, we did not come first. There is still a piece missing and the work starts now."
The AfD led in the Brandenburg polls for much of the campaign and was widely expected to win first place.
But it was held at bay by a late swing toward the established parties. (© Daily Telegraph, London)