German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged her party to celebrate “a super result” after exit polls suggested CDU was set to win a third term.
Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats took about 42% of the vote, according to exit polls.
But Angela Merkel’s preferred coalition is at risk, as her Free Democrat partners appear not have secured the 5% needed to enter parliament.
She may, therefore, be forced to seek a grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) – estimated to have won 26%.
Exit polls for ARD public television put the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) on 4.7%, which if confirmed would be a disaster for the junior coalition partner, leaving it with no national representation in parliament.
Senior party member Christian Lindner called it “the bitterest hour”.
Angela Merkel has urged her party to celebrate “a super result” after exit polls suggested CDU was set to win a third term
The FDP was beaten by the Green Party (8%) and the former communist Left Party (8.5%), and even, according to exit polls, the new Alternative fuer Deutschland, which advocates withdrawal from the euro currency and took 4.9%, just short of the parliamentary threshold.
There was some speculation on German television that the Christian Democrats (CDU) might even win enough seats for an absolute majority – the first in half a century – if both the FDP and AfD fail to make it into parliament.
Angela Merkel addressed jubilant supporters at CDU headquarters, telling them: “This is a super result.”
“We can celebrate tonight because we have done something fantastic.”
In a reference to coalition building, Angela Merkel said it was “too early to say exactly what we’ll do”.
“We have a clear mandate from voters to form a government,” said Volker Kauder, leader of the CDU’s parliamentary group. The outcome showed that “voters want Angela Merkel to remain chancellor” for a third term, he said.
Angela Merkel has made clear she would be prepared to work with the SPD in a grand coalition, as she did in 2005-2009.
The SPD has been more reluctant to consider linking up with the CDU again. The party leader, Peer Steinbrueck, was finance minister in the previous grand coalition, but has said he would not serve in such a government again.
After the exit polls were released, but before official results were confirmed, Peer Steinbrueck conceded that it would be up to Angela Merkel to decide how to proceed saying: “The ball is in Mrs. Merkel’s court. She has to get herself a majority.”
The SPD would have preferred to enter a coalition with the Green Party, but does not appear to have the votes to do so, and has ruled out a three-way alliance including the Left Party (Die Linke).
Analysts think the SPD will probably agree to a coalition with the CDU.
Turnout appeared to be higher than at the last federal election. At 14:00 it measured 41.4% of eligible voters, compared to 36.1% at the same point in 2009.
Right-wing New Democracy and left-wing Syriza parties are almost neck-and-neck after Greek parliamentary elections, according to the first exit polls.
New Democracy, which broadly supports a European bailout deal, was one to two percentage points ahead of Syriza, which opposes the measure.
The outcome could decide Greece’s future inside the euro.
If the exit poll is correct, New Democracy should be able to build a majority coalition.
The government will be relatively weak, and will seek to change the terms of the bailout.
The election was the second in six weeks, called after a 6 May vote proved inconclusive.
On that occasion, each of the main parties tried but failed to form a coalition government.
New Democracy is thought to have polled between 28 and 30% of votes, with 27-28% for Syriza, one exit poll carried out jointly by five polling companies for the main TV channels showed.
An earlier version of the poll only 80% complete had the two parties virtually neck and neck, prompting fears of a hung parliament.
The latest projection would give New Democracy 127 seats, benefiting from a rule which gives the leading party 50 extra seats in the 300-seat chamber.
Right-wing New Democracy and left-wing Syriza parties are almost neck-and-neck after Greek parliamentary elections, according to the first exit polls
It gave the centre-left Pasok, its potential coalition partner, 32 seats, enough for a majority in the 300-seat parliament, with Syriza gaining 72 seats.
New Democracy could also invite a small left-wing party, Democratic Left, to join the coalition to reflect some of the anti-bailout feeling in the country.
With such a strong showing by Syriza, Greece could be in for an autumn of discontent by opponents of the bailout deal.
Another poll for a separate TV station gave Syriza a marginal lead.
Coalition talks will be expected to start on Monday.
Several smaller anti-bailout parties are expected to get between 13 and 21 seats.
Sunday’s vote is being watched around the world, amid fears that a Greek exit from the euro could spread contagion to other eurozone members and send turmoil throughout the global economy.
Tough austerity measures were attached to the two international bailouts awarded to Greece, an initial package worth 110 billion Euros ($138 billion) in 2010, then a follow-up last year worth 130 billion Euros.
Many Greeks are unhappy with the conditions attached to deals which have been keeping the country from bankruptcy.
Polls have shown most Greeks favor staying in the euro and all the main parties except the communist KKE say they will keep Greece in the single currency, but Syriza believes it can renegotiate the bailout deal.
New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras has warned that rejection of the bailout would lead to a return to the drachma, but correspondents say a very large number of Greeks appear to have defied this pressure.
“Greeks voted with emotion and not with reason, this is why you see these numbers,” New Democracy supporter Evangelos Datsos told Reuters news agency after the initial exit polll results came through.
But Syriza supporters were confident of victory.
There is a subdued atmosphere in the Greek capital on Sunday night, with many people just at home, watching nervously on television.
Greeks are proud and therefore private when it comes to explaining their fears to foreigners, our correspondent says, but behind closed doors they are worried about what this means for their country and their futures.
President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party has won enough seats in French parliament to form an absolute majority, according to exit polls obtained by the AFP news agency.
The exit polls suggested Socialist Party and its allies would take more than 312 out of 577 seats in the National Assembly.
If confirmed, it means the Socialists will not have to rely on support from either the Greens or the far-left.
It gives the president strong backing as he seeks measures to boost growth.
President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party has won enough seats in French parliament to form an absolute majority, according to exit polls
Francois Hollande has promised to hire more public workers and to refocus EU fiscal efforts away from their emphasis on austerity.
The vote was the second round of a two-part parliamentary election.
The polls suggested the conservative UMP party and its allies would win between 212 and 234 seats, and the far-right National Front between one and four seats.