Beloved German Chancellor Angela Merkel wins third term
Merkel could reach historic achievement of absolute majority in the country's parliament
Beloved German Chancellor Angela Merkel, known for her soft-spoken and motherly style, promised she would deliver more "successful years for Germany" is heading for a third term. Exit polls indicate she could mark a historic achievement of an absolute majority in the Germany's parliament.
A Protestant pastor's daughter from East Germany, the euro-zone crisis has hit the careers of other European leaders - but not for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Many predicted Merkel would be forced into a "grand coalition" with her main socialist opponents, the Social Democrats, but early results suggested that she might avoid this.
"This is a super result," the 59-year-old Merkel told cheering supporters. "We will do all we can in the next four years together to make them successful years for Germany. It is too early to say how we will proceed but today we should celebrate."
The last time a party won an outright majority in a German election was in 1957, under the Christian Democrat leader Konrad Adenauer. Another four-year term for Merkel, would see her outshine Margaret Thatcher as the European Union's longest serving female head of government.
A Protestant pastor's daughter from East Germany, the euro-zone crisis has hit the careers of other European leaders - but not her. Her current center-Right coalition partners, the Free Democrats, were heading for a bad night however, with just 4.7 per cent of yesterday's vote, according to the exit poll - too little even to enter the German parliament. If this is confirmed, the FDP, a liberal pro-business party, would drop out of the Bundestag for the first time in its history.
Surveys show Merkel's cautious handling of the euro-zone crisis is strongly endorsed by the German public. After eight years in power, her approval ratings still regularly top 60 percent. Merkel has presided over a strong economy with low unemployment in economic uncertain times.
Merkel boasts of keeping Germany stable despite turmoil across the continent. Her social democrat challenger Peer Steinbrück has accused her of prescribing a "deadly dose" of austerity for the euro-zone, saying the government's crisis strategy lacks a "growth impulse."
The government will have to steer Germany through a dramatic shift to renewable energy and cope with the needs of an aging population. Census figures show Germany has more people aged 65 and over than it has children.
The one lone dissenting voice in these elections is Alternative für Deutschland, a party born out of anger over the euro-zone crisis, which calls for an orderly dismantling of the single currency.
Conscious of the need to fend off the "euro-sceptic" threat, Merkel appealed to voters to defend the euro at a rally in Berlin this past weekend.
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