Election posters with Federal Finance Minister, Vice Chancellor and SPD Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz (L) and Armin Laschet, CDU candidate for Chancellor.

THOMAS KIENZLE | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – Polls on the election results in Germany on Sunday showed that the Social Democratic Party has been practically neck and neck with the conservative alliance after one of the country’s most important votes in recent years.

The first projections show that both the SPD and the CDU / CSU block are on course with around 25% of the votes.

The first poll, which the public broadcaster ARD published shortly after the end of the vote at 6 p.m. local time, showed that the Greens received 15% of the vote. The liberal FDP was seen with 11% of the vote, as was the right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland. The Left Party The Left was seen with 5% of the vote.

In an alternative exit poll by ZDF, the SPD was just ahead of the CDU-CSU with 26% of the vote, with 24% of the vote.

Both the SPD and the CDU-CSU immediately claimed a government mandate. The SPD General Secretary said the Left Party wanted its candidate Olaf Scholz to become Chancellor. Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the CDU-CSU said that the exit polls suggest a coalition of the CDU-CSU, the Greens and the FDP.

“Wait for the final results”

The Chancellor candidate of the CDU-CSU, Armin Laschet, admitted after the election results that the result was disappointing and represented a “great challenge” for Germany.

“We cannot be satisfied with the election result,” Laschet told his supporters, according to a Reuters translation.

“We will do everything we can to build a conservatively led government because the Germans now need a future coalition that will modernize our country,” he said. The projections show that the outcome would be the worst of the conservative bloc since World War II.

A coalition only with the SPD is not likely, added Laschet: “It will probably be the first time that we have a government with three partners.”

Meanwhile, SPD leader Scholz said the party had to “wait for the final results – and then we’ll get to work,” said Reuters.

Possible coalitions

It is still too early for a final result, but the projections up to 8 p.m. local time indicated that the CDU-CSU block will get 198 seats in the Bundestag, the SPD 200.

Together the parties would achieve a majority in parliament, but the SPD has already signaled that the CDU-CSU would like to go into the opposition, which means that it would have to form a coalition with two other parties, possibly the Greens and the FDP, to get a majority.

Germany experts like Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, said the exit polls had done little to clarify the prospects for Germany’s next head of government and the composition of the government.

“As expected, a ‘traffic light’ alliance between the ‘red’ SPD and the Greens and the ‘yellow’ liberal FDP as well as a ‘Jamaica’ coalition of Laschet’s ‘black’ CDU-CSU with the Greens and the FDP are possible The SPD and the Greens would probably make an offer to the FDP, while the CDU-CSU and FDP, which are also closely related, would try to get the Greens on board, ”said Schmieding in a research note on Sunday evening.

In order to get the Greens on board in a so-called “Jamaica” coalition (so called because the colors of the parties involved match those of the Jamaican flag), the CDU-CSU might have to make concessions to the Greens, more than the bloc maybe bear it, remarked Schmieding.

Eliminated risk?

While the next Federal Chancellor remains a mystery for the time being, the exit surveys seem to dispel investors’ fears that the country could end up with a coalition of the SPD, Left and Greens, a government alliance that Schmieding said “could boost trend growth through tax increases, Reversals of reforms and excessive regulation have affected. “

“If the official results confirm the election surveys – a big one, if the results are tight and the high percentage of postal voters of up to 50% could make the election surveys less reliable than usual – we would breathe a sigh of relief. We had such a tail in the exit surveys -Risk scenario assigned a risk of 20%, “he said.

Why it matters

The election is significant because it announces the resignation of Angela Merkel, who is preparing for office after 16 years in power.

The most recent German elections did not bring any real surprises, as Merkel’s re-election was relatively certain. But this election race differs in that it is wide open until the last few days before the vote and too short to be named.

The Greens enjoyed increasing popularity and temporarily took the lead in the polls in April, only to be overtaken by the Social Democratic Party, which has maintained a slight lead in recent weeks.

Merkel’s ruling conservative alliance of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union had failed to mobilize the Germans, and around 40% of voters were reportedly undecided in the week leading up to the election, who to vote for.

What is certain is that the next government will be a coalition, as neither party alone has won a majority of the seats. Experts have spent months speculating on the shape of a coalition government, and negotiations, which could begin Monday, will likely take weeks and possibly months.

The CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, have dominated German politics since 1949, when the parties formed a parliamentary group and ran in the first federal election after the Second World War.

In recent years, the party has fallen out of favor with younger German voters who prioritize green policies and want Germany to invest in and modernize its fragile industries and infrastructure.

Votes took place on Sunday all Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time in polling stations across the country, although a large proportion of voters opted for postal voting in this election in light of the coronavirus pandemic.