Angela Merkel’s conservatives lost to rivals in German
The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) were on track for 26.0% of the vote, ahead of 24.5% for Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative bloc, broadcaster ZDF’s estimates showed, but both groups believed that He can head the next government.
With neither major bloc’s majority, and both reluctant to repeat their strange “grand coalition” of the past four years, the most likely outcome is a three-way coalition led by either the Social Democrats or Merkel’s conservatives.
Agreeing on a new coalition could take months, and is likely to include smaller Greens and the Liberal Free Democrats (FDP).
“We are now ahead in all polls,” said Social Democrats chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz in a roundtable discussion with other candidates after the vote.
“It’s an encouraging message and a clear mandate to ensure that we get a good, workable government for Germany,” he added after previously addressing ardent SPD supporters.
The rise of the SPD marks the start of a swing for Germany and marks a remarkable comeback for the party, which has gained some 10 points in support in just three months to improve its 20.5% result in the 2017 national election. .
A woman casts her vote during the general election on September 26, 2021 in Aachen, Germany. Reuters / Thilo Schmuelgen
Scholz, 63, would become the fourth post-war SPD chancellor after Willi Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schroeder. Minister of Finance in Merkel’s cabinet, he is a former mayor of Hamburg.
Scholz’s conservative rival Armin Laschet indicated that his faction was not yet ready to accept, although his supporters were subdued.
“It hasn’t always been the first-place party to provide the chancellor,” Lashet, 60, told the roundtable. In an initial attempt to woo smaller parties, he said, “I want a government that includes every participant, where everyone is visible – not a government where only the chancellor shines.”
Schmidt ruled in a coalition with the FDP in the late 1970s and early 1980s, even though his Social Democrats had fewer parliamentary seats than the conservative bloc.
Alliances for Christmas?
Attention will now turn to informal discussions, followed by more formal coalition talks, which could take months, leaving Merkel in the role of caretaker.
SPD leader and top candidate for chancellor Olaf Scholz and party co-leader Saskia Esken react after the first exit polls for the general elections in Berlin, Germany. Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay
Both Scholz and Lachette stated that they would aim to strike the coalition agreement before Christmas.
Making the vote an era-changing event to determine the future course of Europe’s largest economy, Merkel plans to step down after the election.
She has stood tall on the European stage almost since taking office in 2005 – when George W. Bush was the US President, Jacques Chirac at the Elysee Palace in Paris and Tony Blair the British Prime Minister.
Following a domestic-focused election campaign, Berlin’s allies in Europe and beyond may have to wait for months before they can see whether the new German government is ready to engage to that extent on foreign issues.
A row between Washington and Paris over a deal for Australia to buy the US instead of French submarines has put Germany in an awkward position among allies, but Berlin has been asked to fix ties and reconsider its usual stance on China. Also given the opportunity to help.
Hearing that the SPD was slightly ahead in the polls, US President Joe Biden told reporters in Washington: “I’d be scared … they’re solid.”
On economic policy, French President Emmanuel Macron is keen on creating a common European fiscal policy, which is supported by the Greens but rejected by the CDU/CSU and the FDP. The Greens also want a “massive expansion offensive for renewables.”
“Germany will end up with a weak chancellor who will struggle to find the backbone of any kind of ambitious financial reform at EU level,” said Naz Masraf at political risk consultancy Eurasia.
Whichever coalition comes to power, the Allies of Germany can at least take heart that liberal centralism has prevailed, and the populism that has dominated other European countries has failed to break through.
The ZDF’s projected results showed the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) on track for 10.5%, worse than four years earlier when they reached the national parliament with 12.6% of the vote, and all mainstream groups aligned. rejected. with party.
Additional reporting by Joseph Nasr, Rihm Alkausa, Kirsty Knoll, Maria Sheehan, Madeline Chambers in Berlin, Balazs Korani in Frankfurt and Jeff Mason in Washington; Editing by Timothy Heritage, Raisa Kasolowski and Tomas Janowski
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