Germans voted on Sunday which ultimately bought down the curtains on Angela Merkel’s final term as Chancellor of Germany.
During her 16 years in office, Merkel was seen abroad not just as Germany's leader but in many ways as the leader of Europe, helping steer the European Union through a series of financial and political crises.
In office so long she was dubbed Germany's "eternal chancellor", Merkel, 67, leaves with her popularity so resilient she would likely have won a record fifth term had she sought it.
Instead, Merkel will pass the baton as the first German chancellor to step down entirely by choice, with a whole generation of voters never knowing another person at the top. Her supporters say she provided steady, pragmatic leadership through countless global crises as a moderate and unifying figure.
Yet critics argue a muddle-through style of leadership, pegged to the broadest possible consensus, lacked the bold vision to prepare Europe and its top economy for the coming decades.
What is certain is that she leaves behind a fractured political landscape. It is also because of the long shadow she casts that her party's candidate, Armin Laschet, has struggled to sharpen his own profile.Assuming she stays on to hand over power, Merkel will tie or exceed Helmut Kohl's longevity record for a post-war leader, depending on how long the upcoming coalition negotiations drag on.
Likely coalitions in Germany will either see the SPD or CDU/CSU forming a government with the Green Party, which took 14.8% of the votes and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), with 11.5%
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