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.

Sport
premier leagueLive: All the latest news and scores from today's matches
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
News
politics
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker