An exit poll indicates that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have emerged by far the strongest force in Germany’s election, though it is unclear whether her coalition partners will stay in parliament.
The ARD television exit poll put support for Merkel’s Union bloc at 42%.
But it put her coalition partners, the pro-business Free Democrats, on 4.7% - just below the minimum to keep their seats.
Challenger Peer Steinbrueck’s Social Democrats won 26% and the Greens eight per cent, according to the exit poll. The hard-line Left Party won 8.5%.
The survey showed a new anti-euro party with 4.9% – uncertain of winning seats.
If Ms Merkel’s coalition lacks a majority, the likeliest outcome is an alliance with the Social Democrats.