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France's Le Pen welcomes German hard-right state election gain

Leif-Erik Holm (C) of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) receives his ballot paper for the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state election Reuters/Joachim Herrmann

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has congratulated the "patriots" of Germany's anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) on their party's major gains in Sunday's election in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state. The result is a blow to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democrats (CDU).

"What was impossible yesterday has become possible - the patriots of the AfD hammer Mme Merkel. Congratulations!" the French National Front leader tweeted after news of the result came through on Sunday evening.

The AfD came second in the election in the state, which is home to Merkel's constituency, after the Social Democrats (SPD), pusing the CDU into third place.

The SPD and the CDU previously ran the state in coalition.

In a result interpreted as a rejection of Merkel's policy of accepting thousands of migrants in the country, the AfD's vote rose to 21 percent, while the SPD's fell five points and the CDU scored only 19 percent.

Merkel, who has been in power since 2005, has not said whether she will run for a fourth term in 2017.

Three years after being founded on an anti-euro ticket in 2013, the AfD now has representatives elected to nine state parliaments.