Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party has won Germany's election but finished just short of an absolute majority, official results show.
Mrs Merkel urged her party to celebrate "a super result" as she looked set for a historic third term, the BBC reports.
Her conservative bloc took about 41.5% of the vote but her liberal partners failed to make it into parliament.
It is thought she is likely to seek a grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) who won 26%.
The liberal Free Democrats (FDP) won only 4.8%, which correspondents say is a disaster for the junior coalition partner, leaving it with no national representation in parliament for the first time in Germany's post-war history.
It will be Mrs Merkel's third term in office, Reuters reports.
"We will do all we can in the next four years together to make them successful years for Germany," she told cheering supporters. "It is too early to say how we will proceed but today we should celebrate."
Social Democrats leader Peer Steinbrueck, who came second with about 26%, said it was for Mrs Merkel to decide now what a future government would look like.
"The ball is in Mrs Merkel's court. She has to get herself a majority," he said.
The BBC reports Mrs Merkel has made clear she would be prepared to work with the Social Democrats in a grand coalition, as she did in 2005-09.
Mr Steinbrueck was finance minister in that coalition but has said he would not serve in such a government again.