Election Night Live Blog Up-To-The-Minute Coverage of the German Vote

Germans re-elected Chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democrats to a second term on Sunday night. This time she'll be governing with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party. Check out Sunday night's developments on our liveblog and visit the site later for more background, analysis and opinion.
Foto: Federico Gambarini/ dpa

[9:10 p.m.] Guttenberg Outshines his Party

Germany's aristocratic Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg bucked the trend on Sunday. While his CSU party fared poorly in Bavaria, Guttenberg got 68.1 percent of the votes in his electoral district of Kulmbach, an increase of 8 percent over the 2005 result.

[9:01 p.m.] Forming a New Government

ARD reports that Merkel and Westerwelle are to meet on Monday morning to discuss the formation of a new government. Westerwelle is due to replace Frank-Walter Steinmeier as foreign minister.

[8:45 p.m.] Pirate Party Happy with 2 Percent

A newcomer to the political scene, the Pirate Party, which campaigns for copyright law reform and individual privacy, looked to have come close to getting 2 percent of the German vote. "The vote shows that the issues we campaign on are important and that we are going to be even more successful in the future," said party chief Jens Seipenbusch at the election party in Berlin's trendy Friedrichshain district.

[8:20 p.m.] Dignified in Defeat

The chancellor candidates of the top five parties meet for the so-called "Elephant Round" on ARD. Steinmeier is dignified in defeat and congratulates the CDU and FDP on their victory. The appearance is in stark contrast to the performance of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2005 when he attempted to claim that the SPD had won the election.

[8:00 p.m.] Alienated SPD Voters

Public broadcaster ARD has come up with an initial analysis of the projected disastrous result for the SPD. Veteran TV journalist Jörg Schönenborn has suggested that alienated SPD voters opted not to vote at all. The low turnout of SPD supporters would thus explain the huge slump in the party's vote.

[7:50 p.m.] Left Party Overtakes Greens

Oskar Lafontaine, the top candidate for the far-left Left Party, celebrated the fact that the party had overtaken the Greens to become Germany's fourth biggest party. He vowed that the party would be going on the offensive in the next parliament: "It will be up to us to get in the fiercest jabs."

[7:22 p.m.] The Night's Big Winner

Guido Westerwelle, leader of the FDP, is one of the night's big winners. The likely future foreign minister said that the projection of 15 percent for his party gives it the best result since the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany. "Now the work for Germany and the people really begins," he told party supporters.

[7:09 p.m.] Merkel Greets Jubilant Supporters

An hour after the first projections came through Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared before the cameras to thank her supporters at the Christian Democratic Union's party headquarters in Berlin. After being greeted by rapturous applause, a beaming Merkel told the party faithful: "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 Free Democratic Party."

"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!"

Fotostrecke

Photo Gallery: The Winners

Foto: A3912 Marcus Brandt/ dpa

[6:50 p.m.] Social Democrats' Müntefering in Attack Mode

Social Democratic Party boss Franz Münterfering showed that he was ready to go on the offensive after learning of his party's historic defeat in Sunday's election. "All attempts to destroy Germany will fail in the face of German Social Democracy."

[6:40 p.m.] Big Gains for Germany's Smaller Parties

German Chancellor Angela Merkel may be set for a second term after Sunday's vote, but the real winners were Germany's smaller parties, the business-friendly Free Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party, according to the TV projections of the results. Renate Künast, who heads the Greens in parliament, said "Our support is now in the double digits and we see that as a clear desire of the German people for us to get to work." Her fellow party whip, Fritz Kuhn, said the projected results were a sign that the days of Germany's two traditional large parties -- the center-left Social Democrats and the conservative Christian Democratic Union -- were coming to an end. The CDU is down close to 2 percent over its 2005 result and the SPD plummeted by around 11 percent.

[6:32 p.m.] Stoney-Faced Steinmeier

SPD chancellor candidate Frank-Walter Steinmeier and party leader Franz Müntefering were stoney-faced as they addressed supporters at the Social Democrats headquarters in Berlin. The party cheered the two and applauded them for several minutes. Steinmeier told the party faithful that it was a "bitter defeat."

[6:18 p.m.] Senior Social Democratic Politician: It Wasn't Steinmeier's Fault

Departing SPD parliamentary leader Peter Struck has conceded that his party suffered a bitter defeat on Sunday. "This is a difficult hour for the SPD," he said, adding: "The result doesn't lie with Frank-Walter Steinmeier."

[6:16 p.m.] Wowereit: SPD Must Reinvent Itself

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit of the Social Democrats, whose name is often tipped as a possible future chancellor candidate, said his whole party shared responsibility for Sunday's disastrous result. At the same time, he said, the path would now be cleared for a whole new generation of SPD politicians. In an interview with public broadcaster ZDF, he said: "The SPD must reinvent itself."

[6:14 p.m. ] Disappointed in Bavaria

The Christian Social Union (CSU), Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats, has seen a dramatic slump in its vote. According to television projections, the party has only managed to win 41 percent of the vote in Bavaria, its worst result in over 50 years. The Social Democrats also did badly in the southern state with projections giving them only 16.5 percent of the vote in Bavaria -- its worst ever result there in federal elections.

[6:00 p.m. ] Germany Has Voted

Exit polls for Sunday's election have now been released. According to public broadcaster ZDF's exit poll, Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) appear to have secured enough votes to form a majority. Despite losses over the 2005 vote, Merkel's CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), still got 33.5 percent of the votes. The FDP has also improved its result over 2005, taking 14.5 percent of the vote. Together, those results would give the parties a majority to govern in Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, ensuring Merkel a second term as chancellor. The center-left Social Democrats, led by chancellor candidate Frank-Walter Steinmeier, garnered 23.5 percent of the votes according to the exit poll -- the party's worst ever performance since the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany after World War II. The far-left Left Party appeared to have secured 13 percent of votes and the Greens 10.

[5:20 p.m.] Contradictory Voting Predictions on Twitter

Twitter users have been posting their predictions of the results before the polling stations have even closed. Some Twitter users claim to be referring to the prognoses of respected opinion poll institutes, whose figures cannot be released until after the polling stations have closed at 6 p.m.. However, the figures posted vary greatly.

[4:50 p.m.] Record Low Voter Turn Out Feared

Early figures indicate that fewer Germans are participating in this federal election . By 2 p.m., only 36.1 percent of those eligible to vote had done so. At the same time in the afternoon during the last German federal elections in 2005, the percentage was at 41.9 percent. Those voting by postal ballot have not been included in those figures.

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