Angela Merkel’s victory in the German federal elections has damaged her reputation and authority even though she came in well ahead of her rivals.
As British Prime Minister Theresa May found out in the UK general election earlier in the year, some wins can weaken your position and passing the finish line first does not necessarily make you a winner.
Chancellor Merkel knew she would win the election and a fourth term in office. The result was never in doubt.
But the shock was the right wing AfD snatching 13% of the poll and almost 100 seats in the Bundestag.
Like May, Merkel needs a deal with two or more other parties to take a decisive majority.
Her CDU party was way ahead with 33% of the vote (246 seats), followed by the SPD on 20.5% (153 seats)- then the AfD with 12.6% (94 seats).
Then come the FDP with 10.7% (80 seats), Die Linke on 9.2% and 69 seats and the Greens with 9.4% and 67 seats.
Merkel’s party is pursuing the ‘Jamaica’ coalition – so-called because of the colour of each party make up the Jamaican flag with black for the CDU, gold for the FDP and green for the Greens.
That will give her nearly 400 of the 700 available seats.
But the backlash of mainly younger voters saw the controversial AfD home as the first right wing party to gain seats in the Bundestag since the Second World War.
Voters spoke about their anger over Merkel’s immigration policies and a feeling of isolation from the young who believe her government does not represent them.
The action is not over yet – within three weeks, Merkel faces a state election in Lower Saxony, where the result is by no means certain.
Then the next big issue is who will succeed Merkel, who will have completed 16 years at the head of government by the end of this term in office in 2012?
Cabinet postings may give an indication of who is favoured or being groomed as Germany’s next leader.
The favourite is Ursula von der Leyen, but her rise to power is not guaranteed, especially after the future of the AfD signals the CDU needs to consider some change of policy to embrace the millions of dissatisfied younger voters.