AA / Berlin
Germany’s left-wing Social Democratic Party (SPD) widened its lead over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU / CSU bloc, as the counting of ballots for the parliamentary elections continued on Sunday evening.
The Social Democrats are expected to win 25.9% of the vote and 205 seats in the Bundestag, according to a projection by state broadcaster ARD, while the Christian Democrats (CDU / CSU) are expected to win 24.1% of the vote and 194 seats in Parliament, according to the latest poll estimates.
Candidates from both parties for Chancellor have announced their intention to take the lead in the country’s next coalition government shortly after the polls are over, although millions of votes have yet to be counted.
Christian Democrat leader Armin Laschet told supporters at party headquarters in Berlin that they were ready to engage in talks to form a coalition with other parties, but stressed that the new government should be led by the Christian Democrats.
Laschet said the results show the electorate has rejected a possible left-wing coalition government and wants a coalition formed by parties from the center of the political spectrum.
His rival, Olaf Scholz, for his part stressed that the Social Democrats have clearly improved in terms of the number of votes in this election and that they are entitled to lead the new coalition government.
“Many citizens want a change of government, and they want to see Olaf Scholz become the next Chancellor”, underlined the candidate of the Social Democratic Party.
The first exit polls had hinted at a neck and neck race between the Christian Democrats and their Social Democratic rivals, placing them both at 25%.
The latest projections showed the SPD at 25.9% with a gain of more than 5% from its results in the last election in 2017. Meanwhile, the conservative CDU / CSU bloc of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has fell from 32.9% to 24.1%, marking its worst results since 1949.
Environmentalists (Alliance 90 / Les Verts) and the Liberal Democrat Party (FDP) increased their share of the vote, so both parties are expected to play a decisive role in forming the country’s next coalition government.
The Greens made a historic breakthrough by winning 14.7% of the vote and becoming the third political group in Parliament. The FDP also managed to improve in terms of votes compared to 2017 and is expected to garner 11.5% of the vote.
The far-right “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) party performed worse than in 2017 and is unlikely to win more than 10.4% of the vote.
As for the anti-capitalist left-wing party, it should barely exceed the 5% threshold to enter parliament, according to the latest projections.
The German Chancellor is elected indirectly, with voters choosing new members of parliament who then elect the new Chancellor.
If the winning party obtains a majority in Parliament or manages to form a government coalition with an absolute majority, its candidate is in principle appointed Chancellor of the country.
After 16 years in power, Angela Merkel is leaving active politics but will remain in her post until a new government is formed.
* Translated from English by Mourad Belhaj
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