Angela Merkel won a landslide personal victory in Germany's general election on Sunday, but her conservatives appeared just short of the votes needed to rule on their own and may have to convince leftist rivals to join a coalition government.
Partial results put support for Merkel's conservative bloc on 42 percent, their strongest score since 1990, the year of German unification, and a ringing endorsement of her steady leadership during the euro zone crisis.
The outcome left the centre-right chancellor tantalizingly close to an absolute majority in the Bundestag lower house of parliament, a feat achieved only once in 1957 by Konrad Adenauer, the father of the West German federal republic.
"This is a super result," Merkel told cheering supporters. "Together, we will do all we can to make the next four years successful ones for Germany."