Germany election: Angela Merkel clinches historic victory – but fails to win absolute majority

German Chancellor set to overtake Margaret Thatcher as Europe’s longest serving head of government

Berlin

Chancellor Angela Merkel won a historic third term in office with an overwhelming victory for her ruling conservative Christian Democrats in Germany’s general election on Sunday night after securing huge gains.

The German Chancellor’s Christian Democrats (CDU) romped home with over 41 per cent of the vote – an increase of 8 per cent over Germany’s last general election in 2009. They now command 311 seats in the Bundestag  - just five short of an absolute majority.

But the election brought a humiliating defeat for Ms Merkel’s pro-business, liberal Free Democrat (FDP) coalition partners for the past four years. They were ousted from the German parliament for the first time since 1949 after one of their worst election performances on record, securing just 4.8 per cent of the vote.

“It is our worst performance since 1949,” admitted the FDP spokesman Christian Lindner.

“From tomorrow on, we will have to redefine the German liberal party,” he told Germany’s ARD television channel.

Ms Merkel now faces the prospect of forming a coalition government with the opposition Social Democrats, who have 192 seats, or even the environmentalist Greens, who ended the night with 63 seats.

The recently formed anti-euro party, Alternative for Germany, obtained 4.7 per cent of the vote, a hair’s breadth away from the necessary 5 per cent needed to win seats.

A triumphant Ms Merkel, who is now set to eclipse Margaret Thatcher as Europe’s longest serving head of government, appeared before hundreds of  jubilant party supporters at  Christian Democrat party headquarters in Berlin.

Wearing a conservative blue jacket and smiling broadly she told them, “This is a super result – thank you to all voters who gave us this overwhelming victory. We will do everything we can to make the next four years a success for Germany.”

The result was seen as a boost for David Cameron and his plans to win back powers from Brussels before holding a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. Ms Merkel is an ally who favours limiting the powers of the European Commission and increasing those of national EU governments.

Wolfgang Schäuble, Ms Merkel’s veteran conservative Finance Minister, said that the result ensured that Germany would “keep Europe together. We won’t do this by throwing our weight around; we will do it reliably and responsibly,” he insisted.

Armin Laschet, a senior CDU MP, described the result as a “ringing endorsement” for Ms Merkel, who remains one of Germany’s most-liked post-war chancellors on record.

Ms Merkel’s huge popularity dominated the poll which many commentators described as one of the most boring German general elections on record. The Chancellor’s campaign focused largely on herself. She deliberately avoided discussion about the eurozone crisis and the burden it could exact on German taxpayers. Her critics accused her of lying to voters and “ running scared” of the electorate.

The main opposition Social Democrats led by their gaffe-prone candidate, the former economics minister Peer Steinbrück, won just over 26 per cent of the vote. They left open whether they would join a grand coalition with Ms Merkel’s conservatives.

The Greens, who had run an unpopular campaign demanding tax increases, suffered a major setback by winning only 8 per cent of the vote.

The fights ahead: Merkel's in-tray

Despite the convincing mandate handed to her by voters in yesterday’s  general election,  Angela Merkel faces tough challenges in what will be her third and possibly final term as  Germany’s first woman leader.

The EU crisis remains her main political headache. She still has to come clean and explain to German taxpayers the extent to which they will be asked to contribute to current and future eurozone bailouts. Failure to be explicit on such questions will play into the hands of Germany’s new anti-Euro party- Alternative for Germany.

In  Germany Ms Merkel is already under fire for miscalculating the cost of  her decision to abandon Germany’s dependence on atomic power in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  Her government faces charges that Germany’s plans to rely exclusively on green energy  sources is destined to backfire and cost consumers millions.

She will also be under pressure to define more clearly Germany’s position on the world stage and its stance on key areas of international tension such as Syria. Ms Merkel faces criticism at home for increasing German arms exports to the Middle East while failing to adopt a more pro-active foreign policy role.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project