Written by By Paola Totaro, CNN
Germany’s Social Democrats have won national elections, according to exit polls, challenging Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc.
Reports of the election results began to emerge in the early hours of Thursday. While early results from individual states showed the Christian Democratic Union remain narrowly ahead of the Social Democrats, the overall picture seemed to be turning against the conservatives.
The interior ministry reported that the Social Democrats were on 35.7% of the vote, well ahead of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, which had 33.3% of the vote. The numbers predicted that the left-leaning Greens would win 13.9%, while the pro-business Free Democrats 8.3% of the vote.
The AfD, the Eurosceptic party with roots in the country’s far-right scene, would get between 6.4% and 7.6%, the ministry said. The left-leaning Greens were far behind with 6.8%.
The preliminary results of exit polls had predicted a shift away from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, which lost ground across the country — including in its traditionally conservative strongholds.
The questions that remained were the scale of the shift — which if confirmed, would be a major blow to Merkel — and to what extent the new alliance between the Social Democrats and the Greens would be tolerated by her conservative partners.
Watch for the latest results throughout the day.
From CNN’s Sophie Scott