German Chancellor Angela Merkel swept back to power in yesterday's general election, and will form a new coalition government with the Free Democrats that is expected to cut taxes and follow a more pro-business agenda.
This result brings an end to Merkel's coalition with the Social Democrats, bringing in a new administration committed to economic reform and to axing plans to phase out nuclear power by 2021.
Despite Merkel's personal victory, her Christian Democrat party won only 33.8 per cent of the vote, its second worst result in six decades. The Free Democrats won 14.5 per cent, giving the parties 323 seats in the Bundestag overall.
This election saw Germany's lowest post-war turnout. Of the 62 million eligible voters, 72.5 per cent voted, compared with 78 per cent in 2005.
The Free Democrats gained around 1.74 million votes, increasing its vote share by five percentage points from 2005.
Other fringe parties had a record surge in support as disillusioned voters abandoned their traditional allegiances. The Greens secured 10.5 per cent of the votes, an increase of 2.4 percentage points, while the Linke (Left) party gained 3.4 points, bringing them to 12.2 per cent.
Merkel, a steady leader seen as protecting German interests, has the highest popularity of almost any leader since the second world war. Three quarters of Germans say that she is doing a good job.
She said she wanted to be a "chancellor for all Germans, so Germany does better, particularly in a crisis".