"They don't realize we have these problems", Renner said, referring to Euroscepticism and concerns over Merkel's decision to open Germany's borders to approximately a million asylum seekers, primarily from the Middle East. So her many fans on both sides of the Atlantic can celebrate.
Merkel conceded that it had to led to "polarization, connected with me personally" but said that a lot of progress has since been made.
The leader of the Social Democrats, Martin Schulz, said his party had no choice but to go into opposition after the drop in votes. It would be a tall order anyway, as her bloc only holds 246 of the new parliament's 709 seats.
"It is important that Germany gets a good, stable government", she told reporters at a subdued news conference in Berlin. It is down to us to form a government, and against us, no government can be formed.
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Matthias Jung of pollsters Forschungsgruppe Wahlen told reporters in Berlin that "of course we have to stand up against their views, but if the media all focus on the AfD, exclusively pushing them into the Nazi corner, then it creates a certain effect: everyone who sympathizes with the AfD in a more general way is also being pushed into that corner, and they feel treated in an unjust manner".
Who will join Merkel in her new government is unclear and may not be decided for weeks. She dismissed the idea of seeking a new election.
Merkel campaigned on her record as chancellor for 12 years, emphasising the country's record-low unemployment, strong economic growth, balanced budget and growing global importance.
"We will hunt Merkel!". "I thought this campaign through well".
Describing the far right's success as a test for Germans, Merkel insisted she had a mandate to govern - a formidable challenge as she has little choice but to cobble together a three-way coalition with a pro-business group and the Greens. "But we will negotiate responsibly and seriously".
Last night's election was also notable in that it saw the near collapse of the German Social Democrats - who, with just 20.2% of the vote, also obtained its worst result since World War II.
But he predicted a so-called "Jamaica" coalition between Merkel's conservatives, the FDP and the Greens -whose combined party colors of black, yellow and green are like those the Jamaican national flag- would struggle to deliver. "With this combination Mrs. Merkel can not be successful", he said.