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.

News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
people
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Life and Style
The racy marketing to entice consumers to buy Fairlife, which launches in the US next month
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
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: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital