Germany won a seat on the U.N. Security Council Tuesday in a heated three-way race, and Portugal claimed the second seat for Western bloc nations on the U.N.'s most powerful body after badly trailing Canada withdrew.
African, Asian and Latin American seats were uncontested so India, South Africa and Colombia easily won on the first ballot in the 192-member General Assembly.
Ten of the Security Council's 15 seats are filled by regional groups for two-year stretches, with five elected each year. The other five seats are occupied by the council's veto-wielding permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
In the secret ballot election, candidates need to get a two-thirds majority of members voting to win.
In the uncontested races, India received 187 votes, South Africa 182 votes and Colombia 186 votes.
General Assembly President Joseph Deiss then declared that 190 members voted in the contest for the pro-Western group, which meant 127 votes were required for a two-thirds majority.
He announced that Germany received 128 votes _ one more than required which was greeted with some applause _ that Portugal received 122 votes and Canada 114.
New ballot papers were then handed and in a second round Portugal received 113 votes and Canada got just 78 votes, below the needed two-thirds majority of 128 votes.
After Deiss ordered ballot papers distributed for a third round of voting, Canada's U.N. Ambassador John McNee made the surprise withdrawal announcement.
"Canada would like to withdraw its candidacy and would like to congratulate Portugal and Germany for their election to the council," he said.
The General Assembly then had to vote to approve Portugal, which received 150 votes. Even though it had withdrawn, Canada received 32 votes.
Canada's Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said he didn't think the vote was a repudiation of Canada's foreign policy, but he said a statement by opposition Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff "indicating that Canada did not deserve a seat ... was used as an issue to prevent Canada from acceding to the Security Council."
"We can speculate until tomorrow, but I can't give you any definite response as to what the real issue was, but I can say that Michael Ignatieff's statements hurt us," Cannon told a news conference after the vote.
The five new nonpermanent members of the council will replace Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda whose terms end on Dec. 31. The five members elected last year _ Bosnia, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria _ will remain on the council until the end of 2011.
With victories by South Africa and India, and with Nigeria and Brazil already members, the council next year will have major regional and emerging global powers in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Germany's victory also puts Europe's major economic power and the world's fourth largest economic power on the council.
"By any standards, the council in 2011 could be the strongest group of U.N. and global stakeholders ever assembled on the council," said Security Council Report, a nonprofit organization that tracks the U.N. body's activities.
"This could create a unique dynamic," it said. "However, it is difficult to predict whether this will in fact foster a more proactive and effective Security Council."
Earlier Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists in Bucharest, Romania, that Germany, if elected, will first "want to use this seat to increase our influence on the reform of the U.N. ... by working constructively and in a creative way with the president of the General Assembly, who's obviously primarily in charge of it."
She said Germany also could be "in a better position to have an impact on many processes of conflict resolution and peacemaking" as a nonpermanent member of the Security Council.