Angela Merkel sweeps in for third term as chancellor
German leader’s CDU party scores best federal election result since 1994
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declined to speculate on coalition options after a “super result”, though a likely choice is a return to a grand coalition with the opposition Social Democratic Party that helped her to power in 2005. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
Chancellor Angela Merkel is headed for a third term as German leader after her centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) scored its best federal election result since 1990.
But early results indicated she has lost her outgoing coalition partner, with the liberal Free Democrats outside the Bundestag for the first time in its 65-year history.
Dr Merkel declined to speculate on coalition options after a “super result”, though a likely choice is a return to a grand coalition with the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) that helped her to power in 2005.
Her other option is an untested CDU-Green coalition.
“We’ve been given phenomenal support by voters to shape politics in Germany,” she said. Dr Merkel denied she had smothered her coalition partner by blocking FDP policies in office and a CDU-FDP voting pact.
“I am responsible for many things but not that, but I regret the result because I think a liberal party always did the Bundestag good.”
Voters rewarded Dr Merkel’s CDU and her Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), for economic stability and a low jobless rate. But final results left the CDU/CSU five seats short of a parliamentary majority with 41.5 per cent. The FDP, once Germany’s coalition kingmaker, scored just 4.8 per cent – falling short of the 5 per cent hurdle for Bundestag representation.
“It’s a bitter result and I will accept the political consequences, no question,” said FDP leader Philip Rösler, who is expected to stand down this morning.
Dr Merkel refused to be drawn on her post-election options, remarking only that “Germany was a country of coalitions”.
Her finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble said a grand coalition was “not ideal . . . but Germany needs stability”.
Slightly ahead of the FDP was Germany’s newest political party, the eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD). From a standing start this year, the conservative-liberal party pulled in FDP voters to score 4.8 per cent.
The party opposes further euro zone bailouts and demands that euro crisis countries, primarily Greece, are offered a chance to leave the currency bloc.
AfD chairman Bernd Lucke said he had not given up hope of entering the Bundestag, altering the political arithmetic – and discourse – in the German parliament.
Election turnout was up slightly to 71.5 per cent, but that did not help the opposition alliance of Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, polling 25.7 and 8.4 per cent respectively. SPD gains were matched by Green losses, leaving them eight points behind the CDU.
SPD challenger Peer Steinbrück urged his party to avoid a second grand coalition under Dr Merkel, though party leader Sigmar Gabriel said “it depends on the substance” of coalition talks.
Green Party leaders said this morning the would also hold coalition talks with the CDU.
Just ahead of the Greens, the opposition Left Party is poised to become the Bundestag’s third largest party with exit polls predicting 8.6 per cent.
Both SPD and Green have ruled out a coalition with the Left Party, comprising eastern reformed communists and disillusioned former SPD members.
“Arithmetically there is a parliamentary majority beyond the CDU,” said Mr Dietmar Bartsch, Left Party deputy leader this morning. “That it’s not politically possible is not down to the Left Party.”