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HIGHLIGHTS-Reactions to German national election

BERLIN, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Germans voted on Sunday in a federal election that saw Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives come in as the strongest parliamentary group and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) enter parliament for the first time.

Following are highlights of comments and reactions:

"That is a really bad result for the SPD. That is a heavy defeat," SPD deputy party leader Manuela Schwesig told ZDF broadcaster, adding: "For us, the grand coalition ends today. For us it's clear that we'll go into opposition as demanded by the voter."

"Martin Schulz started the renewal process of the SPD at the party meeting in March, and he will continue that renewal. We win together and we lose together," SPD parliamentary floor leader Thomas Oppermann told broadcaster ARD, when asked whether Schulz would remain party head.

AfD top candidate Alexander Gauland said: "The government, whatever it will look like, should get ready for tough times. We'll chase them. We'll take back our country and our people." (Reporting by Berlin newsroom)