ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER, GERMANY — German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a third term in Europe’s economic powerhouse Sunday, but she lost her partner in the center-right ruling coalition and may have to join with leftist parties.
According to official results early Monday, Mrs. Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union received 41.5 percent of the vote, outpacing the rival Social Democratic Party at 25.7 percent. Although the CDU had its best performance in the post-Cold War era, falling five seats short of an absolute majority in the Bundestag, the allied Free Democratic Party had its worst result ever.
The pro-business party won only 4.8 percent of the vote, falling short of the 5 percent required to get seats in parliament for the first time since the party’s 1948 founding in the ruins of Germany’s World War II defeat and subsequent division.
“This is a super result,” Mrs. Merkel said, trying to put a positive spin on the election as exit polls suggested the Free Democrats’ fate.
“It’s the bitterest, saddest hour for the Free Democratic Party,” said party leader Philipp Roesler, the vice chancellor.
Because the Free Democrats failed to meet the electoral threshold, Mrs. Merkel is likely to turn to the center-left Social Democrats to form a coalition, which could shift the tone of her government toward struggling European countries that share the common euro currency.
Social Democratic leader Peer Steinbrueck said some difficult negotiations are ahead for Mrs. Merkel in cobbling together a government. Regardless, he said, he would not personally serve in a Merkel Cabinet — he was her finance minister in an earlier government.
“The ball is in Merkel’s court,” he said. “She has to get herself a majority.”
The Alternative for Germany party, which calls for a termination of the euro used among 17 of the 28 EU nations, also failed to get enough votes to win a seat in parliament, receiving 4.7 percent of the vote.
The communist Left Party and the environmentally friendly Green Party won seats, as expected, with each receiving a bit more than 8 percent of the vote.
Mrs. Merkel appeared at her party headquarters in Berlin to deliver an upbeat message to supporters, who interrupted her several times with cheers of “Angie! Angie!”
“We will do everything together in the next four years to make them successful years for Germany,” she said.
Mrs. Merkel has led Germany through several economic crises in the eurozone and helped bail out struggling EU members such as Greece and Italy. Through the bailouts, however, she has insisted on spending cuts and economic reforms in those nations.
⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.