Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives triumphed in Germany's election Sunday and appeared likely to end up with close to an absolute majority.
German television projections give Ms. Merkel's Christian Democrats more than 42 percent of the vote - stronger than the combined opposition parties that won enough support to enter parliament.
If that result is confirmed by the final count, it would allow the chancellor's conservative bloc - the Christian Democratic Union and Bavarian Christian Social Union - to govern Germany without a coalition partner.
Center-left challenger Peer Steinbrueck's Social Democrats trailed well behind with about 26.5 percent.
"This is a super result," Ms. Merkel told cheering supporters. "We will do everything together in the next four years to make them successful years for Germany." She would not comment on the possibility of her bloc winning an absolute majority
Nearly 62 million Germans are eligible to elect the lower house of parliament, which in turn chooses the chancellor.
Ms. Merkel's nearly certain third term as chancellor cements her place in history as one of the longest-serving and most influential European leaders of the postwar era.
The election is being closely watched across the continent. In southern Europe - and especially, Greece - Germany continues to be vilified as the country that has forced austerity on the European Union, and many single out Chancellor Merkel.