Campaign posters featuring German Chancellor of the Exchequer, Vice-Chancellor and Social Democratic Party (SPD) candidate for Chancellor Olaf Scholz (L) and Armin Laschet, Chancellor candidate for the Conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
THOMAS KIENZLE | AFP | Getty Images
LONDON-German options in Sunday’s election indicated that the Social Democratic Party is largely neck-and-neck with the Conservative alliance, following one of the country’s most significant votes in recent years.
Early projections show that the SPD and the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (CDU / CSU) blocs are both on their way to about 25% of the vote.
The first exit poll, which was published by the public television station ARD shortly after the vote, ended at 18 local time, pointed out that the Green Party got 15% of the vote. The Liberal Free Democratic Party was seen with 11% of the vote, as was the right-wing Alternative for Germany party. The left-wing Die Linke party was seen with 5% of the vote.
Both the SPD and the CDU-CSU immediately demanded a mandate to govern. The SPD’s general secretary said the left – wing party wants its candidate, Olaf Scholz, to become chancellor. Meanwhile, the general secretary of the CDU-CSU said that the exit polls suggested that a coalition between the CDU-CSU, the Greens and the FDP is possible.
Commenting on the exit polls, the CDU-CSU’s candidate for chancellor, Armin Laschet, admitted the result was disappointing, saying it posed a “major challenge” for Germany.
“We can not be satisfied with the election results,” Laschet told his supporters, according to a Reuters translation.
“We will do everything we can to build a conservative-led government because the Germans now need a future coalition that modernizes our country,” he said. The projections show that the result would be the Conservative bloc’s worst since World War II.
To signal that a coalition with just the SPD was not possible, Laschet added that “it will probably be the first time we get a government with three partners.”
Meanwhile, the SPD’s Scholz said the party must “wait for the final results and then we will get to work,” according to Reuters.
Although it is too early to announce a final result, the projections before 20 local time pointed for the CDU-CSU bloc to get 198 seats in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, where the SPD gets 200.
Combined, the parties would gain a majority in parliament, but the SPD has already signaled that it would like the CDU-CSU to go into opposition, which means it will have to form a coalition with two other parties, perhaps the Greens and FDP, to obtain a majority.
Germany’s experts such as Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, said the exit polls did little to clarify the prospects for Germany’s next leader and the composition of the government.
“As expected, both a Scholz-led ‘traffic light’ alliance between the ‘red’ SPD with the Greens and the ‘yellow’ liberal FDP and a ‘Jamaica’ coalition of Laschet’s ‘black’ CDU-CSU with the Greens and the FDP are possible. The SPD and the Greens, who are close, are likely to expand an offer to the FDP, while the CDU-CSU and the FDP, who are also close, would try to get the Greens on board, “Schmieding said in a research note Sunday night.
To get the Greens on board a so-called “Jamaica” coalition (so named because the colors of the parties involved replicate them on the Jamaican flag) the CDU-CSU could have to make concessions to the Greens and more than the bloc might be willing to stomach , Schmieding remarked.
While the next chancellor of Germany remains a mystery for the time being, the exit polls seem to dispel investor fears that the country could end up with a coalition of the SPD, the left-wing Die Linke and the Greens, an alliance in the government, which, Schmieding said, “could have slowed trend growth through tax increases, reform shifts and excessive rules.”
“If the official results confirm the exit polls – a big one, as the results are close and the high proportion of postal voters of up to 50% can make the exit polls less reliable than usual – we would breathe a big sigh. The exit polls , we had linked a 20% risk to such a tail risk scenario, ”he said.
The election is important because it heralds the departure of Angela Merkel, who is preparing to leave office after 16 years in power.
The recent German elections had failed to give rise to real surprises with Merkel’s re-election relatively certain. But this election has differed by being wide open and too close to calling, even up to the last days before the vote.
The Green Party enjoyed a jump in popularity and took the lead in the polls at some point in April to then be overtaken by the Social Democratic Party, which managed to get stuck in a small lead in recent weeks.
Merkel’s ruling conservative alliance between the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Association had failed to galvanize Germans, and about 40% of voters were reported to be undecided on who to vote for in the week leading up to the election.
What is certain is that the next government will be a coalition, as no party has won a majority of seats alone. Experts have spent months speculating on what form a coalition government could take, and negotiations that could begin on Monday are likely to take weeks and potentially months.
The CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, have dominated German politics since 1949, when the parties formed a parliamentary group and ran in the first federal election after World War II.
In recent years, the party has fallen into disfavor with younger German voters who prioritize green politics and want to see Germany invest in and modernize its squeaky industries and infrastructure.
The vote took place all day on Sunday, from 8 to 18 local time, in polling stations around the country, although a large proportion of voters chose postal votes in this election given the coronavirus pandemic.
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