Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday said she is open to negotiations with her centre-left rivals on forming a coalition government after her hat-trick victory in parliamentary elections, but fell short of absolute majority.
Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) finished four seats short of an absolute majority in the new Bundestag, lower house of parliament, one of the best results achieved by the conservatives.
The two parties together polled 41.7 per cent of the votes, nearly right per cent more than in the last election four years ago and secured a total of 311 seats in the lower house, according to official results published on Monday.
The CDU had achieved the absolute majority only once in 1957 under the leadership of the country's first post-World War II chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Merkel is only the third post-war chancellor to win a third four-year term.
The results are seen as a strong endorsement of 59-year- old Merkel's leadership during the euro zone debt crisis and her government's policies, which contributed to economic stability at home, low unemployment level and a higher standard of living than in many of Germany's EU partners.
Merkel described the outcome of the election as an "overwhelming vote of confidence" in the policies of her government and her party. "It is a super victory for the CDU," she told her jubilant supporters at the party headquarters in Berlin. After the victory, Merkel said she was open to negotiations with her centre-left rivals on forming a coalition government . "We are open for discussions," Merkel said. "I had a first contact with the SPD (Social Democrats) chairman who understandably asked that the SPD first hold its party meeting on Friday," she told reporters.
But she added she did not rule out talks on a potential coalition with the ecologist Greens. The CDU's victory was tempered by the rout of Merkel's junior coalition partner, the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), which was eliminated from the Bundestag for the first time in 64 years as it failed to cross the threshold of five per cent votes needed to gain parliamentary representation.
The business-friendly FDP, which was widely blamed for not fulfilling the promises made when it joined the centre- right coalition in 2009, received only 4.8 per cent of the votes, around 10 per cent less than four years ago and became the first mainstream political party to leave the 630-member Bundestag. FDP chairman Philipp Roesler took responsibility for his party's "tragic defeat" and indicated that he will take personal consequences by stepping down from its leadership.
Merkel will now have to seek a new coalition partner following her "preferred partner" FDP's exit from the Bundestag and one possibility is a "grand coalition" with the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD).