The projected results show that the opposition parties have for the first time been allowed to lead the German government since 2005 with the end of 16 years of Angela Merkel rule of the Christian Democratic Union.
In a close-up election, Olaf Scholz, of the center-left Social Democrats, defeated the conservative party of Chancellor Angela Mercel. 25.7% of votes were won by the SPD, while Armin Laschet’s christian-democratic union won 24.1%. Parties like The Greens were 14.8% and the Free Democrats (FDP) were 11.5%.
Mr Scholz has been a member of the SPD since he was 17 and has served as the vice-chancellor and German finance minister since 2018. Mr Laschet has been the CDU’s deputy leader since 2012, he was selected as the party’s candidate in January 2021.
Both men said they aim to head the country’s next government. Bloomberg reports that all the parties will hold separate meetings on Monday in Berlin to discuss the next steps.
Due to Germany’s complicated election system, the winning party does not automatically appoint the next chancellor. Instead, the chancellor is voted in by parliament after a coalition government has been formed.
Mr Scholz and Mr Laschet have said they aim to strike a coalition deal before Christmas, adding that it may be the first time the German government will have a threeway coalition.
“We cannot be satisfied with the results of the election,” Mr Laschet was quoted as saying, “We will do everything possible to build a conservative-led government because Germans now need a future coalition that modernises our country.”
Until the coalition is formed, Ms Merkel will remain in office as a caretaker. If Ms Merkel remains in power through mid-December she will overtake Helmut Kohl as Germany’s long-serving post war leader.
Ms Merkel has been the second-longest serving Chancellor in German history, providing stability to the European country in spite of challenges such as the financial crisis of 2007-2008, Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
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