Merkel triumphs in German vote
Chancellor Angela Merkel led her conservatives to a stunning victory in Ger- many’s election Sunday, a personal triumph that cements her position as Europe’s most powerful leader. But she will need to reach out to center-left rivals to form a new government after her coalition partner crashed out of Parliament.
Merkel’s Union bloc scored its best result in 23 years to put her on course for a third term, winning 41.5 percent of the vote, official results showed — and putting it just short of the other three parties in Parliament combined. Election officials didn’t immediately give a seat tally.
The 59-year-old benefited from a strong economy and low unemployment that have helped keep her personal popularity sky-high — a contrast with the string of leaders who have lost their jobs in other European countries since the continent’s debt crisis erupted three years ago.
Merkel, Germany’s chancellor since 2005 and the de facto leader of Europe’s crisis response, told supporters it was “a super result.” She wouldn’t speculate about the shape of the next government, but made clear she plans to serve a full term.
“I see the next four years in front of me, and I can promise that we will face many tasks, at home, in Europe and in the world,” Merkel said during a TV appearance with other party leaders.
Despite the scale of her win, governing isn’t likely to get easier for Merkel over the next four years.
Her partners of choice, the pro-business Free Democrats, won only 4.8 percent of the vote.
They fell short of the 5 percent needed to win seats in Parliament for the first time in Germany’s post-World War II history, paying the price for frequent governing infighting and their failure to secure tax cuts they pledged four years ago.