Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) have secured a narrow win over outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in national elections with party leader Olaf Scholz claiming a “clear mandate” to form the government for the first time since 2005.
Preliminary results on Monday morning showed the SPD on track for 26.0 percent of the vote, ahead of 24.1 percent for Merkel’s CDU-CSU conservatives, the worst by the CDU in 70 years.
Germany set to vote in most unpredictable elections in years
Figures on the election commission’s website showed the Green party came third with 14.8 percent. An official announcement from the Federal Returning Officer is expected shortly.
With neither main group commanding a majority, and both reluctant to repeat their awkward “grand coalition” of the past four years, the most likely outcome of the vote is a three-way coalition with the environmentalist Greens and the business-friendly Free Democrats.
Negotiations could take months, and the SPD is likely to be given the first chance to form a government.
“We are ahead in all the surveys now,” Scholz, the SDP’s chancellor candidate and the outgoing vice-chancellor and finance minister, said in a roundtable discussion with other candidates after the vote.
“It is an encouraging message and a clear mandate to make sure that we get a good, pragmatic government for Germany,” he added after earlier addressing jubilant SPD supporters.