A stunning election triumph has left German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the pinnacle of her power and rung in what one newspaper dubbed "the era of Merkelism".
The strongest conservative poll result in two decades was a huge popular endorsement for the leader dubbed "Mummy" at home and often called the world's most powerful woman.
Sunday's election followed a heavily personality-based campaign that focused on Merkel's calm and prudent captaincy through the storms of the euro- zone crisis, in which Germany's economy came out unscathed with its triple-A credit ratings and low unemployment.
In its drive to stay in power, the conservative party "did not bet on a policy but on a person: the chancellor," said the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.
"The Merkel Republic", ran the headline for a commentary on news site Spiegel Online, which declared: "Germany has finally become Angela Merkel-Land". It said her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was now all-powerful and back to where it was in chancellor Konrad Adenauer's times, when it ruled alone and presided over rebuilding war-torn Germany with its "economic miracle".
"The party must thank a chancellor who with her presidential style appeals to broad sections of the population, who doesn't offend, who integrates," the commentary said. "No one can say exactly what she stands for, but many people feel in good hands with Chancellor Merkel."
The CDU and its Bavarian allies demolished their centre-left opponents with what Merkel called a "super-result" of 41.5 per cent, its best in 23 years.
However, the shock demise of Merkel's junior allies, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), after more than 50 years in parliament means she now has to look for a new coalition partner, the CDU having fallen short of an absolute majority.
Jackson Janes, head of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, pointed to Merkel's reassuring persona in turbulent times as the secret to her winning a third term.
"It's that consensus-driven management style - let's take it easy, let's not get upset, let's move through this - as opposed to polarising policies where you set up faultlines," he said. "I think that's something Germans like."
A survey released on Sunday showed a massive 80 per cent of respondents believed the chancellor was doing a good job, while only 17 per cent said she wasn't, according to the institute Forschungsgruppe Wahlen.
"The citizens gave Merkel not just a victory but a triumph," judged the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily. It added: "She has won it as a person, as chancellor, with popularity ratings that are unique in the history of the federal republic.
"This election has turned the Merkel government terms into an era - the era of Merkelism."
The commentary added that the flip side of this was that her party now consists of just Merkel - a notion confirmed by the "Angie" signs waved by jubilant party supporters and the T-shirt slogan: "We are still chancellor."
But if the election outcome showed how many Germans love Merkel, it also confirmed that as a political operator she is not sentimental about dropping allies who become liabilities, as several ministers have already found out.
She snubbed a desperate call from her FDP allies for help on the campaign trail.
Merkel asked her supporters to resist an FDP call to "split" their district and party votes between the CDU and FDP to save the coalition.
Commentators compared the horrible outcome for the FDP with the bruising the Social Democrats (SPD) suffered in 2009 after a joyless "grand coalition" with the CDU in which it withered in Merkel's shadow.
The Frankfurter Rundschau daily said: "She has left two partners - the SPD and now the FDP - in a state where they won't be a threat to her for years to come."