Tens of millions of voters headed to polling stations on Sunday (Sept. 26) to determine Germany’s next government as outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to stand down after 16 years in power.
Initial result estimates showed center-left Social Democrats (SPD) with around 24.9 to 25.8% of the vote, followed closely behind by Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative bloc and their candidate Armin Laschet on 24.2 to 24.7%.
A Forschungsgruppe Wahlen poll for broadcaster ZDF put the SPD of Finance Minister Olaf Scholzon 26% and the CDU/CSU on 24%.
Officials from both parties said they hope to lead the next government. “The SPD has the mandate to govern. We want Olaf Scholz to be chancellor,” SPD Secretary-General Lars Klingbeil told reporters.
“We will do everything in our power” to form a coalition led by conservative parties, Laschet, 60 said.
The environmentalist Greens (Die Grünen) are on course to record their best ever result, headed for 15% of the vote. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) were hovering around 11% each. Die Linke (the Left) party is on 5%.
Given the exit poll predictions -which saw the CDU/CSU slump to a post-war low for a federal election- putting together the next coalition government for Europe’s biggest economy could be a lengthy and complicated process and will involve the Greens and the liberal FDP.
Merkel, who chose not to run in this election, marking the first time in postwar history that the incumbent Chancellor is not seeking re-election, will remain as a caretaker leader until a new government is in place.
“This will be all about striking deals among multiple players, and several options seem possible,” Carsten Nickel at Teneo, a political risk consultancy told Reuters “The talks could take some time.”
“As expected, both a Scholz-led ‘traffic light’ alliance of the ‘red’ SPD with the Greens and the ‘yellow’ liberal FDP and a ‘Jamaica’ coalition of Laschet’s ‘black’ CDU-CSU with Greens and FDP are possible. SPD and Greens, who are close, would likely extend an offer to the FDP whereas CDU-CSU and FDP, who are also close, would try to get the Greens on board,” Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, said in a research note Sunday evening.
“Welcome back to the 2005 election results where either big party can declare victory! Without a majority federally, BOTH the SPD and CDU need both the Greens and FDP for a government. Another GroKo (grand coalition – the current government is made up of CDU/CSU and SPD) would be potentially bad for German democracy and neither party will want it. But it’s possible. SPD will probably edge it but coalition negotiations will be long! Angela Merkel will probably be Chancellor still of a caretaker government at Christmas” political expert Aaron Burnett at the The Local.de said.
Voting took place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time, in polling stations around the country although a large proportion of voters opted for postal ballots. Infratest dimap estimated that the turnout was 76.0% down from 76.2% four years ago.
SPD leader Olaf Scholz captures the most votes
The Social Democrats (SPD) have emerged as the strongest party with 25.7% of the vote (206 seats in the Bundestag-Germany’s parliament), ahead of 24.1% for CDU/CSU (196 seats), according to provisional results. The Greens had their biggest jump and best showing with nearly 15% support (118 seats) and the FDP were on 11.5% (92 seats).
Scholz stated on Monday that his party should lead the federal government, alongside the Green and the FDP. “The Green party and FDP won a considerable increase in votes, and this is why we will be trying to enter into coalitions with these parties.”
“We want to enter into a conversation with the other parties to form a government as quickly as possible,” he said. “A social, environmental, liberal coalition does have a past here in Germany, there’s a tradition we can build on and it’s what we need to do if we can tackle the challenges of the future,” he added.
Equities on major European stock exchanges were higher in premarket trade on Monday (Sept. 27). Germany’s benchmark DAX index shares opened 1.1% higher.
Greens and FDP agree to coalition talks
Germany is a step closer to a socialist-led government after Greens said they want to discuss forming a new coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) and Free Democrats (FDP).
“That’s what we’re proposing to the FDP,” Green co-leader Annalena Baerbock said on Wednesday
adding that “this country cannot afford a long hangover.”
A tie-up between the SPD, Greens and FDP would be a first in Germany. would be dubbed a Jamaica coalition, based on the party colors being the same as those that comprise the Caribbean island’s flag
red, green and yellow colors.
With reporting by DW, AFP, Reuters, The Local.de