German election exit polls show a dead heat in the race to succeed Angela Merkel


Campaign posters featuring German Finance Minister, Vice-Chancellor, and Social Democratic Party’s (SPD) candidate for Chancellor Olaf Scholz (L) and Armin Laschet, Chancellor candidate of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

THOMAS KIENZLE | AFP | Getty Images

German election exit polls indicate that the Social Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union bloc are tied after one of the country’s most significant votes in recent years.

Exit polls following the German federal election on Sunday show the result is too close to call, with the Social Democrats and conservative alliance of the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) both on track for 25% of the vote, respectively.

The polls, which were released by public broadcaster ARD soon after voting finished at 6 p.m. local time, pointed to the Green Party getting 15% of the vote. The liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) was seen with 11% of the vote as was the far-right Alternative for Germany party. The far-left Die Linke party was seen with 5% of the vote, the exit polls said.

Both the SPD and CDU/CSU are already claiming victory with the SPD’s secretary general saying the left-leaning party wants its candidate Olaf Scholz to become chancellor. Meanwhile, the CDU/CSU’s secretary general has said that the exit polls suggest a coalition of the CDU/CSU, Greens and FDP is possible, Reuters reported.

Voting took place all day Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time, in polling stations around the country although a large proportion of voters opted for postal ballots this election, given the coronavirus pandemic.

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The election is significant because it heralds the departure of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is preparing to leave office after 16 years in power.

Recent German elections had failed to throw up any real surprises with Merkel’s re-election relatively assured. But this election race has differed by being wide open and too close to call, even up to the last days before the vote.

The Green Party enjoyed a bounce in popularity and took the lead in the polls at one point in April to then be overtaken by the Social Democratic Party, which has managed to hang on to a slight lead in recent weeks.

Merkel’s ruling conservative alliance of the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union had failed to galvanize Germans, and around 40% of voters were reported to be undecided as to who to vote for in the week ahead of the election.

What’s certain is that the next government will be a coalition, given that no party has won a majority of seats on its own.

Experts have spent months speculating on what form a coalition government could take and negotiations, which could begin on Monday, are likely to take weeks and potentially months.

The CDU, and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, have dominated German politics since 1949, when the parties formed a parliamentary group and ran in the first federal election following World War II.

In recent years the party has fallen out of favor with younger German voters who are prioritizing green policies and want to see Germany invest in and modernize its creaking industries and infrastructure.

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