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PIX: Angela Merkel scores historic victory, wins third term

September 23, 2013 12:39 IST

PIX: Angela Merkel scores historic victory, wins third term

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Riding a wave of public support, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday made a hat trick as she led her Christian Democratic Union to a "super victory" in parliamentary elections, but fell short of absolute majority.

The CDU and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union finished four seats short of an absolute majority in the new Bundestag, lower house of parliament, one of the best results achieved by the conservatives.

The two parties together polled 41.7 per cent of the votes, nearly right per cent more than in the last election four years ago and secured a total of 311 seats in the lower house, according to official results.

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Image: German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union Angela Merkel waves to supporters as she celebrates with party members at the CDU party headquarters in Berlin
Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

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PIX: Angela Merkel scores historic victory, wins third term

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The CDU had achieved the absolute majority only once in 1957 under the leadership of the country's first post-World War II chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Merkel is only the third post-war chancellor to win a third four-year term.

The results are seen as a strong endorsement of 59-year- old Merkel's leadership during the euro zone debt crisis and her government's policies, which contributed to economic stability at home, low unemployment level and a higher standard of living than in many of Germany's EU partners.

Merkel described the outcome of the election as an "overwhelming vote of confidence" in the policies of her government and her party.

"It is a super victory for the CDU," she told her jubilant supporters at the party headquarters in Berlin.

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Image: German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union Angela Merkel (C) and CDU party fellows sing as they celebrate after first exit polls in the German general election at the CDU party headquarters in Berlin
Photographs: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

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PIX: Angela Merkel scores historic victory, wins third term

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The CDU's victory was tempered by the rout of Merkel's junior coalition partner, the liberal Free Democratic Party, which was eliminated from the Bundestag for the first time in 64 years as it failed to cross the threshold of five per cent votes needed to gain parliamentary representation.

The business-friendly FDP, which was widely blamed for not fulfilling the promises made when it joined the centre-right coalition in 2009, received only 4.8 per cent of the votes, around 10 per cent less than four years ago and became the first mainstream political party to leave the 630-member Bundestag.

FDP chairman Philipp Roesler took responsibility for his party's "tragic defeat" and indicated that he will take personal consequences by stepping down from its leadership.

Merkel will now have to seek a new coalition partner following her "preferred partner" FDP's exit from the Bundestag and one possibility is a "grand coalition" with the opposition Social Democratic Party.

The social democrats consolidated their position as the second largest faction by polling 25.6 per cent, 2.6 per cent more than in 2009, but failed to achieve their goal of replacing Merkel's government together with the Green party.

Peer Steinbrueck, SPD's leading candidate and Merkel's main challenger, conceded defeat and congratulated the chancellor on her victory. "We have not achieved our election goals," he told his supporters.

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Image: Christian Democratic Union party members celebrate after first exit polls in the German general election
Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

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PIX: Angela Merkel scores historic victory, wins third term

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The SPD, which holds 192 seats in the Bundestag, has the possibility to join a new coalition with the CDU or to remain in the opposition.

Steinbrueck, who was the finance minister in the "grand coalition" led by Merkel between 2005 and 2009 has ruled out joining a new coalition under her leadership.

The SPD and the Green party have a narrow majority in the Bundestag to form a new coalition government together with the Left party, but the SPD's leadership had firmly rejected an alliance with the Left party during the election campaign and reaffirmed on Sunday their reluctance to work with the Left party in a coalition at least until the next election in 2017.

The Left party, which was formed some years ago by merging the Party for Democratic Socialism in the former East Germany and a break-away group of the SPD, replaced the FDP as the third largest political force by winning 64 seats and 8.5 per cent of the votes, 3.3 per cent less than in 2009.

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Image: Voters Veronika Stuerzer, Monika Merk, Johann Merk and Michael Merk (L-R) wearing traditional Bavarian costume cast their ballots in the German general election
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

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PIX: Angela Merkel scores historic victory, wins third term

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"Who could have imagined in 1990 that this party will become the third largest political force in this country," leader of the Left party faction in the out-going Bundestag told his supporters.

The Green party also suffered heavy losses in Sunday's election and saw its public support dropping to 8.4 per cent from 10.7 per cent in 2009. With a share of 63 seats in the Bundestag, the Green party is a potential candidate for a new coalition government.

Along with the FDP, the euro sceptic party Alternative for Germany also failed to cross the five per cent hurdle in spite of opinion poll forecasts that it may enter parliament for the first time.

 


Image: Election volunteers prepare postal votes to be counted at 1600 gmt with all other ballots in the German general election (Bundestagswahl) at the Messe in Munich
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

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