Germanys far right fails to win seats in parliament

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The victorious Social Democrats, led by Gerhard Schroeder, are expected to form a new government with the Green Party.

Some political analysts had thought it possible that at least one of the right-wing parties would clear the 5 percent hurdle needed to secure a seat in parliament because of the large number of undecided voters before the elections.

The leader of Germany's Jewish community, Ignatz Bubis, said he was relieved at the far right's poor showing. But he noted that a disproportionate number of younger voters were supporting far-right-wing parties.

If this pattern continued, he told the German public television station ARD, the parties could soon prove a force in German politics.

In a separate regional election also held Sunday, the People's Union was shut out of the state legislature in the former East German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

The party had scored a stunning victory earlier this year when it received nearly 13 percent of the vote in another eastern German state election.

The far right has its greatest support in the former East Germany, where high unemployment has generated anti-immigrant sentiment, particular among younger adults.

The People's Union was founded by Gerhard Frey, publisher of Germany's major right-wing extremist newspapers.

One of his competitors on the scene, Franz Schoenhuber, called for a merger of Germany's three leading far-right-wing parties, saying the poor election results represented a warning signal.

"I am very interested in seeing whether the heads of these parties have learned their lesson," he told reporters in Munich, where he was an independent candidate for parliament.

The inability of the parties to settle their rivalries has splintered the German far-right and made it difficult for a single party to collect enough votes to win elections.

Despite some isolated successes on local and state levels, no far right-wing party has cleared the 5 percent hurdle to enter the Bundestag, the federal parliament, since the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1948.

On Saturday, an estimated 3,000 people attended an election rally for the German People's Union in the eastern German city of Passau.

Police intervened when more than 1,000 protesters attempted to block the rally from taking place, arresting some demonstrators and reopening the hall for the election event.

The city of Passau had tried without success to ban the rally, but was overturned by a court ruling.