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Germany's far-right AfD has more immigrant MPs than Merkel's conservatives

BERLIN (Reuters) - The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) will have proportionally more lawmakers with an immigrant background in the new parliament than Chancellor Angela’s conservatives, according to a survey.

The AfD, which enters parliament for the first time after winning 12.6 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election, has been sharply critical of Merkel’s decision to take in 1.3 million mainly Muslim migrants and says Islam has no place in Germany.

Yet 7.5 percent of the AfD’s 93 lawmakers have an immigrant background compared with only 2.5 percent of the conservatives, according to the survey by Mediendienst Integration, an online portal that collects data on immigration and asylum.

That leaves the AfD and the conservative bloc each with seven lawmakers with a recent immigrant background.

“Ironically, by entering parliament, the anti-immigrant AfD has contributed to a rise in the number of deputies with an immigration background,” said Jannis Panagiotidis of Osnabrueck University.

Some 22.5 percent of Germany’s 82 million population have an immigrant background, which means they did not have German citizenship at birth or were born to at least one parent who was not born German.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Christian Social Union (CSU) Bavarian allies won most seats in the election on Sept. 24, which secured Merkel a fourth term but saw her conservatives’ support plunge to its lowest level in the post-war period.

The CDU/CSU, which together have 246 seats in the Bundestag lower house, are expected to try to build a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens.

The AfD is the third largest party in the new lower house Bundestag, behind the center-left Social Democrats.

The new 709-seat assembly will have a total 57 members with an immigration background, 20 more than in the outgoing Bundestag, which had 630 seats.

The far-left Die Linke has the highest percentage of immigrant deputies - nearly 19 percent.

Reporting By Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Joseph Nasr and Gareth Jones