Merkel's emphatic win confirms her as EU's 'pre-eminent' leader
Handed an historic third term, German Chancellor's first challenge is to find junior coalition partner
FEW doubted that Angela Merkel would win the German election, but the size of the vote that has handed her an historic third term is an "amazing result", the BBC says. It confirms her position as "Germany's and Europe's pre-eminent politician."
With some votes still to be counted, it appears that Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) will win almost 42 per cent of the vote - just short of an absolute majority in parliament. Der Spiegel says it's the party's best result since the heady days of 1990 when Germans handed Helmut Kohl his third term in "a wave of gratitude for his role in reunifying the nation".
Merkel's junior coalition partners, the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), had little to celebrate last night. They were obliterated in Saturday's poll, scoring just 4.8 per cent of the vote.
The result leaves the FDP with no national representation in parliament for the first time in Germany's post-war history and Merkel seeking a new coalition partner. It is thought she is likely to seek a partnership with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) who won 26 per cent of the vote.
But the composition of what Germans call a 'grand coalition' is far from certain, says Der Spiegel. The leaders of the SPD are reluctant to discuss a partnership with Merkel's CDU, because such a coalition would be heavily weighted in favour of the Chancellor's party and would cause deep internal divisions within SPD ranks.
The SPD has bitter memories of the last time it was in coalition with the CDU four years ago. It was felt that Merkel got the credit for anything positive that happened within the coalition government, even if it was the Social Democrats' own work, the paper says.
Merkel was characteristically "cautious and guarded" on the subject of coalition partners last night, saying she would wait for the final votes to be counted before proceeding "step-by-step".
The Financial Times says Germany's decision to award Merkel a third term sends a powerful message to the rest of Europe. The outcome is a "powerful endorsement of the chancellor's handling both of the eurozone crisis, and of the domestic economy, during the past four years", it says.
The Daily Telegraph agrees, pointing out that the CDU's election campaign made much of Merkel's image as a "calm, sensible and reassuring eurozone crisis manager".
Merkel is now set to eclipse Margaret Thatcher as the EU's longest-serving female head of government, says The Independent. It believes that the German chancellor's victory is good news for David Cameron who wants to win back powers from Brussels before holding a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union. Merkel is an "ally" who favours limiting the powers of the European Commission and increasing those of national EU governments. ·