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Merkel Wins Another Four Years as German Chancellor

By Jennifer Glasse
27 September 2009

Preliminary results from the German elections show that Angela Merkel, who has been the country's chancellor since 2005, will retain power, but likely form a new coalition government. The Social Democratic Party, which partnered with Merkel's Christian Democrats to form the last government, suffered a bitter defeat in the poll.

German voters have reelected incumbent German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Preliminary reports show her Christian Democratic Union took up to a third of the votes - the largest share of any party. Ms. Merkel declared victory, saying "We have achieved something great, she said, adding that she and her party had managed to achieve their election aim of a "stable majority" in Germany."

Ms. Merkel indicated she will work to form a coalition government with the Free Democratic Party, a pro-reform group that also did well in the elections, taking an estimated 14 percent of the vote. The Free Democrats are considered pro-business, favoring lower taxes and less regulation.

For the past four years, Ms. Merkel has ruled in a coalition with the Social Democratic Party. The head of the Social Democrats, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, conceded defeat shortly after the polls closed. He said the results were a "bitter defeat" following an election campaign in which he and his party received, in his words, "so much support in the streets and the town squares." Steinmeier called it a "bitter day" for German social democracy.

Ms. Merkel has said a new coalition is necessary for Germany to tackle the current economic downturn. But she seemed mindful that not everyone will be happy with the change of government. She said she wants to be "the chancellor of all Germans" so that the country fares better, especially in the current economic crisis.

While recent economic data indicates Germany is beginning to emerge from its deepest recession since World War II, there are other challenges ahead. Unemployment is set to rise, and the cost of Germany's education and health care programs is spiraling.

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