Michael Probst / AP
Opinion polls are now closed at the election in Germany to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is stepping down after 16 years in office.
Polls opened at 8 local time and closed at. 18.00 Early results were expected to follow shortly after the polls closed. There may be more delays than usual in counting ballots this year due to the pandemic and the number of voters who participated in mail-in polls, analysts say.
The latest vote before election day shows that the Social Democrats, who are turning center to the left, are narrowly ahead of Merkel’s party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union and its partner, the Christian Social Association. The Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany follow, as does the Free Democratic Party, which is more libertarian.
Of the parties with a larger vote, the leading candidates to succeed Merkel are the Social Democrats ‘Olaf Scholz, the Christian Democrats’ Armin Laschet and Annalena Baerbock from the Greens.
Economic issues and concerns about how to deal with climate change are some of the biggest concerns among voters in this election. It is a tight race so far, as some voters have still torn over how to vote – even on election day.
“I’m very torn. I like Scholz because of his initiative on taxes to the international minimum tax level, but I’m not so sure how strong they will be on the climate,” first-time voter Vessela Hristova told NPR.
Scholz currently serves as the German finance minister and vice chancellor.
Even with the uncertainty surrounding this year’s election, some voters in Berlin – a more liberal crooked city compared to Merkel’s conservative incline policy – say they will not miss Merkel in office.
“Maybe when we see what will be the result of this election, maybe we will miss her! I do not know. She is not my chancellor,” Katja Lucke told NPR.
The Germans will get a better sense of who is in the lead when the polls close, but it will take longer to get more accurate results of the election. In the German electoral system, parties may have to form coalitions to determine a majority. And in this year’s election, it could result in three parties forming a coalition, a rarity in German politics.
Rob Scmitz contributed reporting from Berlin.
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