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Germany is poised for weeks or even months of extended coalition talks after the race to produce a successor to Angela Merkel after 16 years in power failed to produce a clear winner, with the center-social Democrats. left and the conservative center-right alliance in a tight first and second.

The exit polls and the first results counted put the Social Democrats in the lead with a very narrow majority and his chancellor candidate, Olaf Scholz, and his rival Armin Laschet of the CDU / CSU insisted that they had won the right to form a government.

The Green Party, in good spirits after securing its best result in a national ballot, despite losing the lead it held early on and losing around 13 points since April, was confident of becoming a kingmaker in the upcoming negotiations. coalition.

His candidate, Annalena Baerbock, at 40 the youngest candidate for chancellor in a way, and Scholz of the SPD expressed their willingness to work together, with Scholz hastening to congratulate the environmentalists and saying there was many areas in which the parties overlapped.

But he said during the so-called “elephant ride”, a televised debate involving all major candidates two hours after the voting booths closed, “out of respect for the citizens of this country, we cannot make any final decisions.” Scholz said he wanted “constructive discussions, so that the whole country can see itself in the future government”.

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Olaf Scholz

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German elections: the SPD in the lead as the results approach |  German Federal Elections 2021

Olaf Scholz

Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor of the last Merkel government has been an influential player in German politics since 2002, when he became General Secretary of the center-left Social Democratic Party under Gerhard Schröder.

Former labor lawyer and deputy head of the then anti-capitalist Young Socialists youth wing of the SPD, the taciturn 63-year-old was for most of his career associated with the right of the party: as senator of the interior and then mayor from Hamburg, he often pursued a strict policing policy and continued the mercantilist traditions of the wealthy port city in northern Germany.

At the Federal Ministry of Finance, Scholz was careful not to undermine German orthodoxies around a balanced budget. “I’m a liberal, but I’m not stupid,” he once told an interviewer.

His supporters say the avid jogger is not only highly knowledgeable and detail-oriented, but also more to the left than his reputation. Along with his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire, he was one of the driving forces behind the project to introduce a global minimum corporate tax supported by the world’s major economies this summer.

Photograph: Lisa Leutner / AP

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The initial reaction of the Social Democrats (SPD) had been cautiously optimistic as well as a relief that Scholz, the outgoing finance minister, appeared to have retained the gains made in the latter part of the campaign. At Christian Democracy (CDU) headquarters, any relief that he did not slip as low as the polls suggested under Armin Laschet was overshadowed by the fact that he appeared to be heading for his worst federal election result.

The Green Party also strengthened by doubling its result compared to 2017 and beating the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) in third place. The results strongly indicate that environmentalists are on the right track to enter a new government.

Likely constellations include a so-called green-yellow-red “traffic light” coalition with the SPD, Greens and FDP, or a “Jamaican” coalition of CDU / CSU, Greens and FDP.

According to the results, compiled for German broadcasters by pollsters, the SPD was 25% to 26%, the CDU / CSU alliance 24% to 25%, the Greens 14.5% to 15% and the FDP to 11%. 12%.

The far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is set to re-enter the Bundestag for the second time, with an 11% gain, while left-winger Die Linke appears to have managed to hit the 5% hurdle required to secure a place. .

Preliminary results indicate that Germany is moving, as has been widely predicted, towards a three-way coalition. Based on past experience – in 2017 it took about three months – it will involve a long period of heated bickering. Merkel would remain interim chief in the meantime.

The election marked the first time since World War II that an incumbent chancellor has failed to stand for re-election. This left the contest much more volatile and unpredictable than ever, and left many Germans – polls between 25 and 40 percent – undecided until voting day.

Laschet, speaking to disappointed CDU supporters at the party’s headquarters in Berlin in the presence of Merkel, said the party suffered from not having the so-called “chancellor’s bonus” after the latter left. “It was clear to us that without having the bonus of being with the person in office, it would be an open, tough and closed election campaign,” he said.

“We are not happy with the result,” he added, but was applauded for saying he would nevertheless do everything in his power to ensure that the new government is led by the CDU. Merkel looked and nodded, her face largely covered by a black mask.

SPD Minister Hubertus Heil told a German broadcaster: “The night is young. But it’s a huge success for us. A year ago we were 20% behind the CDU, but now we are neck and neck. He added that he was “fucking proud” of his party.

Baerbock called the result “wonderful”. “We had an election campaign that we had never had before,” she said, addressing party members in Berlin, flanked by her co-leader, Robert Habeck. But, she added: “We can’t just cheer – we wanted more.” She admitted to making mistakes, which she said were her fault, at the start of the campaign, but added: “We have a clear task for the future” – pledging to help create this which she called a “climate government”.

Katrin Göring-Eckhardt, a leader of the Green Party, said that although her party had hoped for a better result – it was once at 27% of the polls – it was celebrating a success. “This is the vote of a generation that wants change,” she said, noting that many young people had voted for the party.

“The task before us is far greater than any election,” she added, referring to the challenge of dealing with the climate emergency, and pledged that in government, the Greens would hold their own. party pledge that 100% of German energy would come from renewable sources.


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