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
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
sport Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
Football Vine shows Suarez writhing in pain before launching counter attack
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sport LIVEFollow the latest news and scores from today's Premier League as Liverpool make a blistering start against Norwich
VIDEO
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLESir Cliff Richard has used a candid appearance on an Australian talk show to address long-running speculation about his sexuality

Sport
Lukas Podolski celebrates one of his two goals in Arsenal's win over Hull

Arsenal strengthened their grip on a top-four finish with a straightforward 3-0 win over Hull City.

Arts & Entertainment
Quentin Tarantino, director
arts + ents Samuel L Jackson and Michael Madsen have taken part in a reading of Quentin Tarantino’s axed follow-up to Django Unchained.
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport Hamilton captured his third straight Formula One race with ease on Sunday, leading from start to finish to win the Chinese Grand Prix

Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit