Germany’s left-leaning Social Democratic Party (SPD) expanded its lead over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc as vote counting continued Sunday night in the country’s parliamentary election.
The Social Democrats were seen winning 25.9% and 205 seats in the Bundestag, according to a projection by public broadcaster ARD.
The Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) were predicted to win 24.1% of the vote and an estimated 194 seats in parliament, according to the latest polling data.
The candidates for chancellor of both parties announced their claim to lead the country’s next coalition government shortly after voting ended, although millions of votes had yet to be counted.
Christian Democrat leader Armin Laschet told supporters at the party’s headquarters in Berlin that they are ready to engage in coalition talks with other parties but underlined that the new government must be led by the Christian Democrats.
He said the results showed that the electorate rejected a potential left-wing coalition government and wants a coalition formed by parties from the center of the political map.
His rival Olaf Scholz on the other hand stressed that the Social Democrats significantly increased their vote share in this election and should lead the new coalition government.
“Many citizens want a change in the government, and they want to see Olaf Scholz as the next chancellor,” Scholz stressed.
Initial exit polls had suggested a neck-and-neck race between the Christian Democrats and their rival Social Democrats, putting both at 25%. The latest projections showed the SPD at 25.9% with a gain of more than 5% compared with its results in the last election in 2017. Meanwhile, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc fell from 32.9% to 24.1%, marking its worst results since 1949.
The environmentalist Greens and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) have increased their share of the vote, and both parties are expected to play a decisive role in the formation of the country’s next coalition government.
The Greens achieved a historic breakthrough, winning 14.7% and becoming the third biggest political group in parliament. The FDP also managed to increase its vote compared to 2017 and was predicted to win 11.5%.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party performed worse than in 2017 and is projected to win only 10.4%.
The anti-capitalist Left Party is expected to barely pass the 5% threshold to enter parliament, according to the latest projections.
Germany's chancellor is elected indirectly, with voters choosing new parliament members who then determine the new chancellor with a vote among themselves.
If the winning party secures a majority in parliament or manages to build a coalition government with an absolute majority, its candidate usually becomes the country's next chancellor.
After 16 years in power, Merkel is quitting active politics but will remain in her post until a new government is formed.
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