Angela Merkel's glorious electoral victory has a painful sting in the tail

Angela Merkel's electoral victory in Germany Photo:

We knew she would win, of course, but noone really expected anything quite as big as this. It is without question a personal and political triumph for Angela Merkel.

At a time when public anger is sweeping away Government after Government in the Eurozone, she’s back for more, and in no mood to soften her line on austerity. “Our European policy will not change”, she told a victory press conference this morning.

But her moment of triumph has been tarnished by the collapse in the vote for her Liberal coalition partners, the FDP. They have been in Parliament ever since the West German state was founded. Today they are out, failing by just 0.2% to hit the 5% threshold, and their departure makes forming a Government a great deal more difficult for Merkel.

Germany economy minister and leader of the Free Democratic Party Philipp Roesler, whose party are out of parliament. Credit: Reuters

Her party, the CDU/CSU is just three seats short of an absolute majority in the Bundestag.

The German consitution does not allow minority Governments, so she must find a partner from one of only three other parties who won seats: the firmer Communists (out of the question); the Greens (difficult and probably unlikely); or her socialist opponents, the SPD.

And they are reluctant, to say the least. The SPD went into a so-called 'grand coalition' with her in 2005, only to be punished severely at the next election in 2009. They don’t much fancy going through that again.

How much easier it would have been to have had loyal FDP allies by her side, so that life could have continued as before. As it is, she will now have people on board who will be demanding that she listen to France’s president Hollande over Europe, that she gives David Cameron no concessions in Brussels, and that she goes a lot easier on southern Europe, even - Heaven forbid! - cancelling some of their debts.

She, of course, wants to do none of these things.

Members of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) celebrate their victory. Credit: Reuters

And it seems that nothing is going to happen quickly. Coalition negotiations could easily take several weeks, possibly stretching into months. The last time the CDU and the SDP formed a Government it took a full three months for the coalition deal to be drawn up.

And in the meantime Europe watches and waits, desperate for quick decisions to be taken on banking union, new bailouts for Greece and Portugal, and even first steps towards writing off some of the German taxpayers money that has been lent to Greece.

There’s a Brussels summit due next month at which it had been hoped that an all-conquering and re-invigorated Angela Merkel would "do what is needed" to secure the Eurozone.

Better make that the December summit. Or even next year.