Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats were locked in a very close race on Sunday with outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right bloc, which is heading for its worst result since 1949 in the country’s parliamentary election, exit polls said. found out from
Officials from both parties said he hoped to lead Germany’s next government and that his candidate would replace Merkel, who has been in power since 2005.
An exit poll for ARD public television put voter support for the Social Democrats at 25 percent – pushing outgoing Chancellor Olaf Scholz for chancellor – and the successor to Merkel’s union bloc would be state governor Armin Laskett. .
Another exit poll for ZDF public television put the Social Democrats ahead of 26 percent to 24 percent. Both placed environmentalist Greens in third place, with about 15 percent support. Those results would be the worst for the Union bloc in Germany after World War II.
The electoral system typically produces coalition governments, but post-war Germany has seen never before that the winning party received less than 31 percent of the votes won by the Union in 1949. It was also the centre-right bloc’s worst result ever.
Putting together the next coalition government for Europe’s largest economy could be a long and complicated process, given exit poll predictions. Merkel will remain as caretaker leader until a new government is formed.
Exit polls put support for the business-friendly Free Democrats at 11-12 per cent and the Left at 5 per cent. The far-right alternative to the Germany party – with which no other party wants to work – was seen getting up to 11 percent of the vote.
Lachette’s Christian Democratic Union general secretary, Paul Zimiak, acknowledged that his faction suffered a “bitter loss” compared to the last election four years earlier, in which it won 32.9 percent of the vote. But he said it would be a “long election evening” and pointed to the possibility of an alliance with the Greens and the business-friendly Free Democrats.
His Social Democrat counterpart, Lars Klingbeil, declared that his party was “back” after years of losing elections and securing only 20.5 percent of the vote in 2017. “With this, we have a mission to build an alliance,” he said. He would not say which alliance partners would be contacted.
If exit polls hold up, Scholz could even form a coalition with the Greens and Free Democrats. The Greens traditionally lean toward Scholz’s party and Laschet toward the Free Democrats. In German elections, the party that finishes first is ranked best to provide the next chancellor, but is not guaranteed.
The Social Democrats have been boosted by the relative popularity of Scholz and the troubled campaigns of his rivals after a long turnout. The Greens’ first candidate for chancellor, Annalena Baierbock, suffered from early gaffes, and North Rhine-Westphalia state governor Lechet struggled to inspire her party’s traditional base.
The Greens’ general secretary, Michael Kellner, said: “We’ve gained a lot, but it’s hard for me to really enjoy it.” She added that her party has said it likes to work with the Social Democrats, but added that “we are ready to talk with all democratic parties to see what is possible.”
Another possible governing combination would be a repeat of the outgoing “grand coalition” of Germany’s traditional major parties, the Union and the Social Democrats, whichever Scholz or Lachette ends up ahead. But none of the rivals seem to have much appetite for it after Merkel’s 16 years in power for 12 years forging an often tense coalition.
About 60.4 million people in the country of 83 million were eligible to elect the new Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, which would elect the next head of government.
It will not be easy to follow Merkel, as she has won praise for driving Germany through several major crises. His successor will have to oversee the country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, which Germany has so far weathered relatively well thanks to large rescue programs.
Laschet insisted there should be no tax increase as Germany exits the pandemic. Scholz and Baerbock support tax increases for the richest Germans, and also support an increase in the minimum wage.
There are significant differences between Germany’s major parties in their proposals to tackle climate change. Lachette’s union bloc is pinning its hopes on technological solutions and a market-driven approach, while the Greens want to hike carbon prices and end coal use earlier than planned. Scholz has emphasized the need to protect jobs as Germany transitions to green energy.
There was not much foreign policy in the campaign, although the Greens favor a tough stance towards China and Russia.
Frank Jordan, Kirsten Grishber and Karin Lobb contributed to this report.