BERLIN -- After four years of an uncomfortable alliance with the liberal Social Democratic Party marked more by inaction that by any major initiatives, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her conservative Christian Democrat party won a sweeping victory in federal elections here yesterday, putting the legislative pieces in place to make significant policy changes in her second term.
The pro-business Free Democrats pulled off a major upset, winning enough votes to form a grand coalition with the CDU. Meanwhile, the election marked a major defeat for the SDP, with party candidate Frank-Walter Steinmeier calling for a reassessment of the party's priorities and goals.
The CDU ended up with 33.8 percent of the vote compared to 23 percent garnered by the SDP. The FDP gained 14.6 percent, while the far left Die Linke received 11.9 percent and the Greens 10.7 percent. Voter turnout was 70.8 percent of 62.2 million eligible voters, down from 77.7 percent in 2005.