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Merkel celebrates election win, seeks grand coalition

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel and her Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands party (CDU) are celebrating an astounding election win that saw them narrowly miss out on securing an absolute majority.

Angela Merkel herself described the result, which saw the CDU and its sister party the CSU (Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern) increase their combined share of the vote by 8%, as “superb”. It was a more chastening result for the Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP) and Chairman Philipp Rösler has resigned following an outcome which means that the junior coalition partner will be without national representation in parliament for the first time since the end of World War Two.

This means that despite pulling in 41.5% of the vote, Frau Merkel is left seeking another coalition partner and early indications are that she will look to form a so-called ‘große Koalition’ (grand coalition) with major rivals the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands). The SPD achieved a 26% share of the vote, disappointingly far behind Merkel’s conservative bloc and if they are to hold any serious sway in parliament they may have no choice other than to get into bed with the election victors. The decision is complicated by the fact the SPD is divided on the issue. Some are in favour of a coalition, whereas others are more cautious. The latter cite the fact the formation of such a coalition following the Bundestagswahl 2005 led to disillusionment among voters that cost the party votes in 2009.

The fact that Merkel and the CDU need the SPD’s support should allow Peer Steinbrück’s party to secure promises on key issues such as healthcare and education, but the fact that Merkel and the CDU/CSU missed out on an absolute majority by just five seats shows exactly how strong support among the people is and this should grant her the upper hand in any negotiations. These negotiations will be tense and all will not become clear for some time yet, but what is certain is that by voting for Merkel’s party, Germans have shown that many are satisfied with the way the government has handled the Eurozone crisis and that they feel continuity and stability is the best way to proceed. This is a view shared by several leaders of EU member states, all of who will be breathing a sigh of relief.

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