Germany’s centre-left SPD and their chancellor candidate, Olaf Scholz, have secured a narrow win over their centre-right CDU rivals in the elections held on Sunday.
SPD have won 25.7 percent of the vote. Angela Merkel’s CDU party and their candidate, Armin Laschet, sank to a historic low in a federal election, with 24.1 percent.
Scholz called the outcome a “great success.” “Many citizens have put their crosses next to the SPD because they want there to be a change in government and also because they want the next chancellor of this country to be called Olaf Scholz,” he said.
The 63-year-old politician has served as the vice-chancellor and German finance minister in Merkel’s grand coalition government since 2018, earning him increased visibility as he navigated Germany’s economic response to the pandemic. “Now we will await the final result, but then we will get to work. Thank you!” Scholz said.
The Greens, led by Annalena Baerbock, have secured their best result in a national poll, with early results putting them at 14.8 percent – in third place and ahead of the liberal FDP, which posted 11.5 percent, also a small improvement.
The far-right AfD is set to enter parliament for the second time, on 10.3 percent. The leftwing Die Linke party failed to clear the 5 percent hurdle to enter parliament, winning just 4.9 percent, but will be represented anyway due to a loophole that excepts them if they win three direct mandates.
The parties will now embark on “exploratory talks” to form a coalition government, with a three-way coalition considered the most likely at this point. Likely constellations include a so-called green-yellow-red “traffic light” coalition, with the SPD, Greens and FDP, or a “Jamaican” coalition of the CDU/CSU, Greens and FDP.
Coalition government in Germany after elections
What’s certain is that the next government will be a coalition, given that no party has won a majority of seats on its own.
Experts have spent months speculating on what form a coalition government could take and negotiations, which could begin on Monday, are likely to take weeks and potentially months.
A few weeks ago it looked that the SPD would easily win. That was until Merkel entered the fray, her career at the top of German politics now weeks from coming to an end.
“It really matters who’s in power,” she warned voters repeatedly in the 48 hours before the vote. Her message was that Germany needed stability and its youth needed a future – and Armin Laschet was the man to provide it.
In a final push for votes, the outgoing chancellor joined conservative candidate Armin Laschet at a rally on Saturday in his hometown of Aachen.
According to the Pew Research Center, the departing German Chancellor has been rated positively in almost all of the 16 advanced economies surveyed in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
However, Greece stands out as the nation where Merkel’s work is rated negatively by seven out of 10 Greeks.