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September 28, 2009

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Merkel claims win for new government

CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel has claimed victory for a new center-right government in Germany's general election.

A beaming Merkel told supporters after yesterday's vote that "we have achieved something great. We have managed to achieve our election aim of a stable majority in Germany for a new government."

Projections showed that Merkel's conservatives are headed for a majority with the pro-business Free Democrats, who performed very well in the vote. That fulfills Merkel's hopes of ending her "grand coalition" with the center-left Social Democrats of challenger Frank-Walter Steinmeier and form a government with the Free Democrats instead.

Merkel still made clear she wants to maintain her consensual approach, saying "I want to be the chancellor of all Germans."

Both the ARD and ZDF television networks forecast that Merkel was on track to get her wish.

Projections for the two stations, based on early counting and exit polls, put support for Merkel's Christian Democrats at 33.5 percent of the vote and for the Social Democrats at around 23 percent.

The projections also showed the Free Democrats at nearly 15 percent, the Left Party at more than 12 percent and the Greens at more than 10 percent.

If the projections are borne out, it would be the worst parliamentary election result for the Social Democrats since World War II.

Steinmeier swiftly conceded that his party was headed into opposition. "There is no talking around it: this is a bitter defeat," a subdued Steinmeier told supporters at the party's Berlin headquarters, vowing to provide a strong opposition to Merkel's new government.

Merkel had argued that a change of coalition was needed to ensure stronger economic growth amid the global economic decline.


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