2009 German Federal Elections - Angela Merkel Wins German Election, Has Majority for Center-Right Government

German voters re-elected Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday and allowed her to ditch the center-left Social Democrats from her government and form a coalition with her preferred partner, the pro-business Free Democratic Party, instead, according to reliable projections.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a second term in Sunday's federal election and will be able to form a government with the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), dumping the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD)
with whom she has ruled since 2005 in an uneasy coalition, projections showed.

She will have a comfortable center-right majority in the Bundestag lower house of parliament with an estimated 323 seats, 15 more than the absolute majority of 308 seats, according to a projection broadcast on ZDF television.

According to the ZDF projection, Merkel's conservatives won 33.8 percent, down 1.4 points from the 2005 result of 35.2 percent, while SPD support fell to a record low of 23.0 percent, down 11.2 points from five years ago.

"I am happy that we have achieved a great thing, to get a stable majority in the new government made up of conservatives and the FDP," a beaming Merkel told supporters at the headquarters of her Christian Democrat Union party in Berlin.

'Angie, Angie'

"I want to be the chancellor of all Germans to enable our country to do better and come out of this crisis," she said, smiling coyly as supporters chanted "Angie, Angie!"

Support for the FDP, which campaigned on a platform of tax cuts, jumped by 4.9 points to 14.7 percent, its best result in a federal election, the projection showed.

Merkel's new center-right government is expected to extend the life of some of Germany's nuclear power stations that are due to be phased out by 2020, and to lower taxes. The last conservative-FDP coalition ruled from 1982 until 1998 under Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

The voter turnout at 71.2 percent was sharply down from 77.7 percent in the last election in 2005 after the main parties waged a lackluster election campaign.

The outcome is a disaster for the SPD, which slumped to its worst result since World War II. Merkel's SPD challenger, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will lose his post as foreign minister and could be succeeded by FDP leader Guido Westerwelle.

The SPD has been in government since 1998 but was weakened by unpopular welfare cuts it enacted in 2003 and 2004 under former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Many traditional SPD voters drifted to the Left Party, which was formed in 2007, or they didn't bother to vote at all because they were put off by the SPD's failure to maintain a strong left-wing identity as junior partner to Merkel's conservatives.

"The voters have decided and the result is a bitter day for German social democracy, this is a bitter defeat," Steinmeier told SPD supporters gathered in the party's headquarters in Berlin.

"I promise you we will be an opposition that will very closely monitor this new government, they must prove that they're capable and I have doubts about that."

"I look back on 11 years in government in which the SPD has made a major contributution to ensuring a good future for this country and bringing it forward." said Steinmeier, looking startled at the
persistent defiant applause from SPD workers, many of whom had tears in their eyes."

Steinmeier will become opposition leader as head of the SPD's parliamentary group.

'A Clear Confirmation for Merkel'

The conservative governor of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Jürgen Rüttgers, told German ZDF television: "This result is a clear confirmation of Angela Merkel. It's a clear result and there's a clear majority for the conservatives and the FDP."

The opposition Greens scored 10.6 percent, up 2.5 points from 2005, while the Left Party gained 3.8 points to 12.5 percent, according to TV projections on ARD.

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