Angela Merkel, whose conservative party came top in Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Germany, has said she is ready to begin negotiations to form a new coalition.
With 41.5 percent of the vote and 311 seats in the Bundestag, the Christian Democrats (CDU) came just five seats short of winning an absolute majority.
Now assured of a third term, the Chancellor can no longer count on the Free Democrats – ousted from parliament after failing to reach the five percent threshold – and is instead looking to her Social Democrat rivals.
“We are open for talks of course, I made initial contact with the SPD chairman who – and I want to stress that I understand that – told me that he needs to wait for the SPD convention on Friday,” Merkel told her supporters in a brief victory speech in Berlin.
The chancellor served her first term between 2005 and 2009 in a “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats, who came second with 25 percent of the vote.
Weeks of bargaining beckon. The SPD may try to get austerity policies watered down but there is little doubt that with what she describes as a “clear mandate”, the woman Germans call “Mummy” is calling the shots.