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Merkel heads for uneasy coalition
BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in office on Sunday but will have to build an uneasy coalition to form a German government after her conservatives haemorrhaged support in the face of a surge by the far-right. The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) stunned the establishment by winning 13.1 per cent of the vote, projected results showed, a result that will bring a far-right party into parliament for
 
 
Jubilant Merkel
Berlin: Chancellor Angela Merkel clinched a fourth term in Germany’s general election on Sunday, but her victory was clouded by the hard-right AfD party winning its first seats in parliament. Merkel, who after 12 years in power held a double-digit lead for most of the campaign, scored around 33 percent of the vote with her conservative Christian Union (CDU/CSU) bloc, according to exit polls. Its nearest rivals, the Social
   
Basque leader urges Madrid to allow independence votes
Madrid: The regional leader of Spain’s Basque Country, where nationalist sentiments run high, urged Madrid on Sunday to allow independence referendums like those held in Scotland and Quebec. The comments by Inigo Urkullu come as Catalonia’s separatist leaders plan to hold a referendum banned by Madrid on October 1, although whether this will happen remains to be seen given the measures taken by Spain’s central government and the
 
 
British actor Fiennes given Serbian passport
Belgrade: Award-winning British actor and director Ralph Fiennes, who portrayed Lord Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” series, was given a Serbian passport on Sunday for “promoting” the Balkan country. The decision to grant honorary citizenship to the 54-year-old English star was reached earlier this month by the government of Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. “I never thought I would become a Serb and now it seems that I am one,”
   
Swiss vote against plan to save pensions
Geneva: Swiss voters rejected on Sunday a divisive pension reform plan that the government proposed to address the needs of an ageing population. The final results showed 52.7 percent of voters said no to changes to the current system which would have raised women’s retirement age by a year to 65 as well as hiking VAT to help fund benefits. The result of the tight vote is a setback for the government, which said the changes
 
 
Vatican says it axed chief auditor for spying
Rome: The Vatican said Sunday it had been forced to oust its former auditor general — who resigned without explanation in June — because he had been spying on senior officials. In the latest scandal to embroil the centuries-old institution, Libero Milone had accused the Vatican of getting rid of him because his investigations into possible illegal activity had hit too close to home. Just hours after the story broke, the Vatican
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