The Social Democrats’ candidate Olaf Scholz, the outgoing Vice Vhancellor and Finance Minister who pulled his party out of a years-long slump, said the outcome was “a very clear mandate to ensure now that we put together a good, pragmatic government for Germany.”
Despite getting its worst-ever result in a federal contest for Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc since 1949, the Union bloc said it too would reach out to smaller parties to discuss forming a Government, while Merkel stays on in a caretaker role until a successor is sworn in.
Election officials said early Monday that a count of all 299 constituencies showed the Social Democrats received 25.9% of the vote, ahead of 24.1% for the Union bloc. No winning party in a German national election had previously taken less than 31% of the vote.
Armin Laschet, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state who outmaneuvered a more popular rival to secure the nomination of Merkel’s Union bloc, had struggled to motivate the party’s base and suffered a series of missteps.
“Of course, this is a loss of votes that isn’t pretty,” Laschet said of results that looked set to undercut by some measure the Union’s previous worst showing of 31% in 1949. But he added that with Merkel departing after 16 years in power, “no one had an incumbent bonus in this election.”
Laschet told supporters that “we will do everything we can to form a Government under the Union’s leadership, because Germany now needs a coalition for the future that modernizes our country.”
Both Laschet and Scholz will be courting the same two parties: the environmentalist Greens, who were third with 14.8%; and the pro-business Free Democrats, who took 11.5% of the vote.
The Greens traditionally lean toward the Social Democrats and the Free Democrats toward the Union, but neither ruled out going the other way. The other option was a repeat of the outgoing “grand coalition” of the Union and Social Democrats that has run Germany for 12 of Merkel’s 16 years in power, but there was little obvious appetite for that after years of government squabbling.
The Left Party was projected to win only 4.9% of the vote and risked being kicked out of parliament entirely.
The far-right Alternative for Germany — which no one else wants to work with — received 10.3%. This was about 2 percentage points less than in 2017, when it first entered parliament.
– HINDUSTAN TIMES