From Reuters: German voters gave Chancellor Angela Merkel a second term on Sunday and a mandate to partner with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) in a government that will rein in the role of the state in Europe’s largest economy…

Projections from ARD and ZDF public television showed Merkel’s conservative bloc — the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) — on 33.8 percent, down from a score of 35.2 percent in 2005, and their second-worst result in the post-war era.

But the FDP, a party which saw its support rise in the wake of the financial crisis, compensated for those losses, surging to 14.5 percent, its best score ever, and putting the center-right over the top.

The SPD, which has been in government for over a decade, was the big loser in the election and will join the environmentalist Greens and Left party in opposition after plummeting over 11 points to 23.1 percent, its worst result since the war.

Merkel’s SPD challenger Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who served as her foreign minister for the past four years, called it a “bitter defeat.” Projections showed the Greens on 10.1 percent and the Left on 12.5 percent…

Within months of taking power, the new government will have to renew a parliamentary mandate for German participation in the unpopular NATO-led mission in Afghanistan in the face of a more powerful leftist opposition.

“The result means that we will see more confrontation at the federal level because the SPD will move to the left,” said Uwe Andersen, a political scientist at the University of Bochum. (photo: AFP)