German major parties to elect separate leaders

Major political parties in Germany met separately to elect their parliamentary leaders on Tuesday, two days after the Sunday general election with no parties or alliances achieving a clear majority.

Franz Muentefering, incumbent parliamentary leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), is expected to be reelected.

Angela Merkel, leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), was asking her party to elect her as the party's leader in parliament, Xinhua reports.

But experts here say any outcome below the 93 percent endorsement that she got in 2003 would be regarded as criticism of her performance in the election campaign.

Experts hinted that a result below 80 percent could indicate the end of her ambition to be the first female German chancellor.

The CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, grasped 35.2 percent of votes and 225 seats in the Bundestag, the lower house of the parliament, in the national elections, while the SPD garnered 34.3 percent of votes and 222 seats. Both Merkel and SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder claimed victory.

The Free Democratic party (FDP) got 9.8 percent of votes and the Green party, currently ruling in coalition with the SPD, netted 8.1 percent. The newly founded Left Party netted 8.7 percent of voters.

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