Germany prepared Monday for a politically unexpected period when the Social Democrats won a general election but faced a rival claim to power from the conservative camp of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Preliminary official results show that the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) received 25.7 percent of the vote, while Merkel’s center-right CDU-CSU bloc fell to a historic low of 24.1 percent.
The Green Party came in third with 14.8%, the best result yet but less than expected.
SPD Chancellor candidate, Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Schulz said he had a clear mandate to govern.
Despite losing the election, his conservative rival, Armen Lashit, also claimed the right to try to form the next government – starting a fight for potential coalition partners.
For a country used for political stability after 16 years of Merkel’s strong leadership, a serious ride is promised in the coming weeks and months.
Western allies are watching closely, aware that domestic engagements could erode Germany’s role on the international stage and create a leadership vacuum in Europe.
Lashett, 60, and Schulz, 63, said their goal is to form a new government before Christmas.
Citizens “want a change of government,” said Schulz, who ran a flawless campaign that presented him as a safe pair of hands, in stark contrast to the bodyguard’s gossip.
Poker Game –
“The poker game for power begins,” Der Spiegel wrote weekly.
The Sueddeutsche newspaper said the vote showed that “the Germans wanted change, but lost some of their nerves.”
In the shattered post-Merkel political landscape, the most likely outcome will be a tripartite alliance – the end of the post-war tradition of bipartisan governments.
Scholz and Laschet will seek the Greens and the Liberal, pro-business FDP party (11.5%) to consolidate a parliamentary majority.
However, the two kingmakers are not natural bedfellows, disagreeing on issues such as tax increases and public investment in climate protection.
Green Chancellor candidate Analina Beer-Bok, whose party had hoped to do better this year with the climate crisis, remained vague about her favorite bond, but said it was time for 83 Millions of people in the country to be “a new beginning”.
FDP leader Christian Lindner suggested sitting down with the Greens before talking to the two major parties to speed up the process.
Lindner has indicated a preference for a “Jamaican” alliance with the CDU-CSU and the Greens نام in the name of those parties سیاہ black, green and yellow لیکن but rejects the “traffic light” bridge with the SPD No greens
– authorities –
Lashit also immediately made sense, saying that Germany’s position as president of the G7 club next year means that it needs a government capable of taking action.
He said the new government should take office soon.
Neither the SPD nor the CDU-CSU want a repeat of the left-right “Great Alliance” in three of Merkel’s four governments.
Neither party will work with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD), whose score fell from about 13% in the last election of 2017 to 10.3%.
The far-left party fell below 5%, but still entered parliament with three direct mandates.
According to the Election Commission, the results of the vote will take Germany’s Bundestag to a record 735 lawmakers.
SPD won 206 seats, 10 more than CDU-CSU.
Until the complex coalition talks are settled, Merkel will remain as caretaker.
If the talks continue beyond December 17, they will overtake Helmut Kohl as Germany’s longest-serving chancellor since World War II.
– It hurts a lot –
Merkel, who chose not to run for a fifth term, is still Germany’s most popular politician.
But the CDU-CSU’s poor performance in Sunday’s election threatens to tarnish its legacy, which for the first time in its seven-decade history saw the bloc fall below 30 percent.
Alfons Thising, an 84-year-old CDU supporter, pointed the finger at the issue.
“It’s very sad that Merkel is gone,” he told AFP.
Merkel, 67, is also expected to move beyond Germany’s borders, which has helped the European Union in years of turmoil, including the financial crisis, the influx of refugees, the Brexit and the Corona virus epidemic.
Although all of Germany’s major parties are pro-EU, none of their successors can match their political affiliation.