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German Social Democrats beat conservatives in vote to decide Merkel successor

BERLIN-Germany’s Social Democrats narrowly won Sunday’s national election, projected results showed, and claimed a “clear mandate” to lead a government for the first time since 2005 and to end 16 years of conservative-led rule under Angela Merkel.

The center-left Social Democrats (SPD) were on track for 26.0% of the vote, ahead of 24.5% for Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative bloc, projections for broadcaster ZDF showed, but both groups believed they could lead the next government. With neither major bloc commanding a majority, and both reluctant to repeat their awkward “grand coalition” of the past four years, the most likely outcome is a three-way alliance led by either the Social Democrats or Merkel’s conservatives.

Agreeing a new coalition could take months, and will likely involve the smaller Greens and liberal Free Democrats (FDP). “We are ahead in all the surveys now,” the Social Democrats’ chancellor candidate, Olaf Scholz, said in a round table discussion with other candidates after the vote. “It is an encouraging message and a clear mandate to make sure that we get a good, pragmatic government for Germany,” he added after earlier addressing jubilant SPD supporters.

The SPD’s rise heralds a swing left for Germany and marks a remarkable comeback for the party, which has recovered some 10 points in support in just three months to improve on its 20.5% result in the 2017 national election.

Scholz, 63, would become the fourth post-war SPD chancellor after Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schroeder. Finance minister in Merkel’s cabinet, he is a former mayor of Hamburg.

VOTERS TURNOUT

On September 27, 2021 at 6:00 a.m., the Federal Returning Officer announced the preliminary results of the election to the 20th German Bundestag on September 26, 2021. With a voter turnout of 76.6 percent (2017: 76.2 percent).

COALITION FOR CHRISTMAS?

Attention will now shift to informal discussions followed by more formal coalition negotiations, which could take months, leaving Merkel in charge in a caretaker role.

REUTERS