The Social Democrats (SPD), Germany’s centre-left party, has declared victory in the federal election, informing departing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party that it should no longer be in office.
Olaf Scholz, the SPD leader, said he had a clear mandate to form a government, but his conservative challenger Armin Laschet is undeterred in his battle.
For years, the two parties have worked together to rule.
Mr Scholz, on the other hand, believes it is time for a new coalition with the Greens and liberals.
According to preliminary election results, his party won by a razor-thin margin over the conservatives, who had their worst-ever election performance.
In an election driven by climate change and contrasting plans on how to address it, the Greens and the pro-business FDP received the greatest support from the under-30s. Even though they fell short of their goals, the Greens made history with over 15% of the vote.
Merkel Still In Power – For Now
Exit polls projected a tie, but this election was uncertain from the start, and the outcome would never be the last word. For starters, the outgoing chancellor has no plans to leave until the coalition is established, which might take until Christmas.
By the time Germany assumes leadership of the G7 group of nations in January, the major parties want a new government in place.
The new chancellor will have four years to oversee Europe’s largest economy, with climate change at the forefront of voters’ minds.
Mr Scholz’s SPD supporters greeted him with joy, but it wasn’t until his party had the lead that he told a television audience that the people had entrusted him with establishing a “decent, realistic administration for Germany.”
On Monday, he claimed that there were three parties on the rise: his, the Greens, and the liberals, and that the conservatives needed to back down. “These three should form the future administration, based on the unambiguous mandate provided by the inhabitants of our nation.”
His conservative opponent has dug in, claiming that the goal was to form a coalition, not to achieve “an arithmetic majority.” In other words, the winner does not get everything.
The defeat was not lost on CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak, who said that was not the point: “In the end, the issue is going to be can you build a meaningful project for the future?”
“Two maybe-chancellors and two kingmakers,” read one headline summarizing Sunday night’s shambles, but that’s exactly what it looked like.
Because it isn’t simply the leaders of the Social Democrats and Republicans who are vying for power. The two kingmakers are open to proposals and intend to speak with one another to see if they can find any common ground.
The liberals and the Greens together account for more than a quarter of the vote and would take both major parties over the finish line.
They may be more popular with younger people than any other party, but bringing them together would need some skill. On Monday, a Greens spokesperson said it was no secret that the party was not friendly with the liberals.
Annalena Baerbock, the head of the Green Party, wants to relax Germany’s debt brake, which prevents a large increase in public debt. Christian Lindner, the FDP’s leader, has little patience for her party’s “plans of tax rises or easing the debt brake.”
Germany is facing a three-way coalition for the first time, but the country has entered a new political age, and the talking has yet to begin.
Aside from the four mainstream parties, the extreme left had a poor night, while the far right had a mixed night.
Left-wing Die Linke fell short of the 5% threshold needed to enter parliament, but it was able to stay in since it received three direct mandates.
Although the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) looks to have lost ground nationwide, it is poised to become the most powerful party in the eastern German states of Saxony and Thuringia.