BERLIN -- Angela Merkel celebrated a stunning election victory on Sunday but Germany's chancellor now faces the challenge of finding a new coalition partner after her former allies suffered dramatic losses.
With 41.5 percent of the votes, Merkel's center-right Christian Democrats boasted its best result since German reunification in 1990. However, her party fell five seats short of an absolute majority.
"This is a super result," Merkel told cheering supporters. "Together, we will do all we can to make the next four years successful ones for Germany."
Merkel, 59, was later spotted dancing to "Days Like These" by German punk band Die Toten Hosen.
The daughter of a Protestant pastor who grew up behind the Iron curtain in East Germany, Merkel was earlier his year named by Forbes as the world's 2nd most powerful person -- being topped only by President Barack Obama.
Merkel's conservatives finished far ahead of rival Peer Steinbrueck's center-left Social Democrats, who won 25.7 percent of the vote
The result put Merkel on course for her third term. Merkel told reporters Monday that she saw "no need for change" from her conservative point of view.
The liberal Free Democrats -- which had been in the junior partner in a coalition with Merkel's party before the election -- failed to claim any seats in parliament.
As a result, Merkel's Christian Democrats and their sister party, the Bavarian CSU, will engage in exploratory talks with other parties. The discussions are likely to end in a so-called "grand coalition" with the Social Democrats.
The negotiations are expected to last several weeks. Merkel governed a grand coalition between 2005 and 2009.
Analysts say that a newly formed government under Merkel's leadership is unlikely to result in any major policy shifts but could bring a slightly softer tone in the managing of the Euro crisis.
The result leaves Merkel as one of the few European leaders to survive the debt crisis, which has seen 19 of her EU peers lose their jobs since the start of 2010.
Merkel is the third post-war chancellor to win three elections, after her mentor Helmut Kohl and Konrad Adenauer, who oversaw post-war reconstruction.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.