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Angela Merkel makes gains in German elections

From Frederik Pleitgen and Stefan Simons, CNN
updated 11:18 AM EDT, Mon September 23, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Angela Merkel wins third election
  • Merkel's party comes within two seats of a super majority, early results show
  • Her bloc's CDU and CSU parties garnered 41.5% of the vote, results show
  • Merkel was elected as chancellor in 2005 and then again in 2009

Berlin (CNN) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party won Sunday's parliamentary elections, but appeared to fall just short of obtaining a super majority, according to preliminary results released early Monday.

Merkel's bloc -- the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU) -- garnered 41.5% of the vote, according to semi-official results released by the Federal Election Office. Merkel's party was within two seats of obtaining a super majority, a majority greater than a simple majority of half-plus-one.

The results appeared to validate Merkel's policies and leadership style as she has guided Germany through the Eurozone's economic crisis amid criticism that she has held back bailout help to struggling EU nations.

"This is a super result," Merkel, who was running in her third election, said in remarks to supporters at CDU headquarters that were televised.

Read more: Angela Merkel: Europe's Mrs. Nein

"It's too early to say how we will proceed," she said. "But today we should celebrate."

It's a far cry from her first election in 2005, when Merkel's pre-election musings about tax increases went down badly with voters. She took office with a small plurality after her party was forced to build a coalition with her opponent's party, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Merkel also took a hit in the 2009 elections amid German discontent over the country's role in Afghanistan.

The only hiccup of the night Sunday appeared to be for Merkel's junior coalition party, which appeared to be coming up short with 4.8% of the 5% needed to remain in parliament, according to the preliminary results.

Read more: Merkel: World's most powerful woman?

If Merkel fails to pull a super majority, she will be forced to build a coalition with an opposition party.

Merkel's CDU consistently polled in the lead up to nationwide balloting between 40% and 42% -- a 10-year high for CDU -- while the SPD, her closest competitor, dipped at one point to a historic low of 23%.

The last time a party had a super majority in Germany was in 1957 with Konrad Adenauer, the country's first post-World War II chancellor.

Merkel is only the third post-war chancellor to win three successive elections.

Read more: Why the German election matters

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen reported from Berlin, and Stefan Simons from Atlanta. CNN's Chelsea J. Carter and Stephanie Halasz contributed to this report.

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