Support for Chancellor Angela Merkel surged in Sunday's general election in Germany, but she will be forced to find another coalition partner, according to initial tally projections by public television, dpa reported.
Merkel's bloc fell only just short of an absolute majority.
The Free Democrat (FDP) party, part of Merkel's coalition for the past four years, will lose all its seats in the federal parliament if its result remains under 5 per cent - the minimum level for legislative participation - when the vote count is complete.
ARD television said the two governing parties, Merkel's Christian Democratic bloc (CDU/CSU) and the FDP, won 42 per cent and 4.7 per cent, respectively, of the vote. ZDF television's respective estimates were 42.3 and 4.5 per cent.
Only four years ago, the FDP had achieved nearly 15 per cent. However, since that win, it has come to be seen by voters as fractured and ineffective. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle belongs to the party and will lose his post if the projections are confirmed.
A eurosceptic party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), came close to entering the German parliament. ARD and ZDF calculated its support at 4.9 per cent or 4.8 per cent.
The main opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) fell well short of its aim of overtaking Merkel, winning only 26 per cent, according to ARD, or 26.3 per cent according to ZDF. The SPD is Merkel's most likely partner if the FDP falls short of the legal threshold.
Merkel's first 2005-09 chancellorship was a "grand coalition" with the SPD.
The Greens Party suffered sharp losses, winning only 8.1 per cent or 8.0 per cent, according to the respective ARD and ZDF numbers. That was down from 10.7 per cent last time. Die Linke, a hard left party, won 8.3 per cent or 8.5 per cent.
Whatever workable coalition emerges, it would, by German tradition, take until mid-November to nail down all the terms of a coalition deal.
The election campaign largely focused on personalities, with opposition groups unable to put controversial issues in the spotlight.
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