Germany election: Coalition talks begin after close election

The polls have closed and Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) have claimed a narrow victory in the federal election.

Now, the complicated process of forming a coalition government begins.

SPD leader Olaf Scholz wants to work with the Greens and liberals and says they have a public mandate to do so. But his conservative rival Armin Laschet will not give up that easily.

The talks can take months. Until then, Angela Merkel will remain in office.

Germans went to the polls on 26 September. It was a significant election because the new chancellor will replace Angela Merkel, who has spent 16 years at the helm.

It was an extremely tight race – but no party won enough votes to form a majority in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament.

That means that a coalition government must be formed. This is nothing new for Germany, as since the Second World War no party has ever won enough seats to form a government on its own.

Olaf Scholz’s SPD party claimed victory – but he will need to join forces with other parties if he wants to secure the chancellery.

The other leading party, Chancellor Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered its worst-ever performance with Armin Laschet as its candidate.

The SPD and conservatives have governed together for years. However, Mr Scholz has said he wants to join forces with the Greens and liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).

But the conservatives are not going down without a fight. Armin Laschet has said he is determined to try to form a government, also with the Greens and liberals. But his reputation has taken a hit this year, particularly after he was pictured laughing during a sombre visit to a flood-hit town in July.