Angela Merkel drinks a glass of wine as she celebrates
after first exit polls in the German general election at
the CDU party headquarters in Berlin. REUTERS/Fabrizio
Chancellor Angela Merkel has won a landslide personal
victory in a German election, putting her within reach of the
first absolute majority in parliament in half a century, a
ringing endorsement of her steady leadership in the euro
Partial results put her conservative bloc - the Christian
Democratic Union (CDU) and Bavarian Christian Social Union
(CSU) -- on 42.5 percent, which if confirmed would be their
strongest score since 1990, the year of German unification.
The outcome could give Merkel an edge of a few seats over the
combined opposition in the Bundestag lower house for the
first time since conservative Chancellor Konrad Adenauer
achieved that feat in 1957. But she may still need a
coalition partner for her third term when the final votes are
"This is a super result," Merkel told cheering supporters.
"Together, we will do all we can to make the next four years
successful ones for Germany."
There was bitter disappointment for her Free Democratic (FDP)
coalition partners, who looked set for a humiliating exit
from the Bundestag, the first time they would be absent from
the chamber in the post-war era.
The second biggest German party, the centre-left Social
Democrats (SPD), suffered their second-worst result since
World War Two, polling just 26.4 percent, after a
gaffe-filled campaign led by former finance minister Peer
A new eurosceptic party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD),
could still rob Merkel of a parliamentary majority if it
breaks through above the 5 percent threshold needed to enter
parliament. The AfD was hovering on 4.9 percent in
The radical Left party was set to be the third biggest force
with about 8.4 percent, ahead of the ecologist Greens, who
shed votes to finish with around 8 percent.
Despite the resounding victory, Merkel's third term won't be
a cakewalk if she does end up ruling alone.
Some analysts worry that she could have trouble pushing
legislation through both chambers of parliament. The
Bundesrat upper house is dominated by left-leaning parties
like the SPD and Greens.
VERY NARROW MAJORITY
"If Merkel does end up with an absolute majority, it will be
a very narrow majority so it will not make things easier for
her politically," said Carsten Koschmieder, political analyst
at Berlin's Free University.
"She will have to pay much more attention to people in her
own party, for example those who voted against Greek
Uncertainty over the final result means Merkel may yet end up
being forced into another 'grand coalition' with the SPD,
with whom she ruled between 2005 and 2009.
In that event, negotiations could last months and Merkel
might be compelled to accept more leftist policies that the
SPD has advocated in the campaign, such as a minimum wage and
higher taxes for top earners.
"We won't be committing to any coalition this evening," SPD
second-in-command Andrea Nahles said, reflecting deep
resistance within the party to partnering with Merkel for the
second time in a decade. The SPD came off worst after their
Many of Germany's European partners hold out hope that the
Social Democrats could push Merkel to soften her stance
towards struggling southern euro states like Greece, although
the chances of major shifts in policy are slim.
French President Francois Hollande, a Socialist who had hoped
for a strong SPD showing, was swift to congratulate Merkel on
her victory in a telephone call and invite her to Paris once
a new government is formed, the French presidency said.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who chairs EU
summits, said in a message of congratulation to Merkel: "I am
confident that Germany and its new government will continue
its commitment and contribution to the construction of a
peaceful and prosperous Europe at the service of all its
One of Merkel's key CDU ministers pledged that Berlin would
do its share to help pull the euro zone out of crisis.
"We will remain reliable in the role of stability anchor and
growth locomotive. We will keep Europe together," said
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has played an
influential role in Germany's management of the euro zone
Merkel, the daughter of a Protestant pastor who grew up
behind the Iron curtain in East Germany, is on track to
become the third post-war chancellor to win three elections,
after Adenauer and her mentor Helmut Kohl.