UK & World News
Merkel Romps To Victory In German Election
Angela Merkel has joined her jubilant supporters in song and dance after winning a third term as German Chancellor.
Speaking at a post-election party to chants of "Angie, Angie, Angie", she hailed a "superb result" for her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Together with sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), it saw its combined share of the vote rise by 8%.
German newspaper Der Spiegel said the country was now a "Merkel republic", such was the returning Chancellor's dominance at the polls.
However, Ms Merkel's celebrations are unlikely to continue for long, as she begins the task of securing new coalition partners to govern Europe's largest economy.
The liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) her coalition partner since 2009, saw its support plummet by nearly a tenth to 4.8%.
It slumped beneath the 5% threshold of national support and is now barred from the Bundestag, the national parliament.
"The party leadership will discuss everything when we have a final result but we can celebrate tonight," Ms Merkel said.
"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."
Officials results show the†CDU/CSU won 41.5% of the vote, seeing off the main opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) who managed 25.7%.
The humiliation of the FDP almost handed Ms Merkel an absolute majority, as its exclusion lowered the number of seats the CSU would have needed to control the chamber.
But she fell just five seats short of that total and will need to forge alliances in order to govern.
It seems most likely she will seek a "grand alliance" with the SDP, which will be expected to seek promises in return for its support.
They could include a greater emphasis on growth across the eurozone, rather than austerity, and the introduction of a minimum national wage.
But Ms Merkel's support from the electorate is so strong, it will strengthen her hand in any negotiation.
It is unlikely there would be an obvious sea-change in the government's political trajectory.
That will be welcomed by many in the EU and leaders around the world who know that a change of direction might spook the markets and raise borrowing costs for indebted nations.
It will also cheer Prime Minister David Cameron, as Ms Merkel appears to share his conviction that the EU could be strengthened if power flows from Brussels back to member states.