Germans vote in close election to decide Merkel’s successor
AACHEN / POTSDAM, Germany – The Germans went to the polls on Sunday in a national election too close to be called, with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) posing a major challenge for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
Merkel has been in power since 2005, but plans to step down after the election, making voting an age-changing event https://reut.rs/3hfDamG to set the future direction of Europe’s largest economy.
A fractured electorate means that after the election, the main parties will poll each other before embarking on more formal coalition negotiations that could take months, leaving Merkel, 67, at the helm in a guardian role.
“We all feel this is a very important federal election,” Laschet told reporters after voting in his constituency of Aachen. “It is a federal election that will decide the direction of Germany in the years to come and therefore every vote counts.”
Olaf Scholz of the SPD, the finance minister of Merkel’s right-left coalition, which won all three televised debates between the main candidates, is running against Laschet.
Scholz, 63, saw his party’s lead over the Tories reduced to 1-3 points in the final opinion polls, giving Laschet a chance for a narrow victory.
“I hope that as many citizens as possible will go and vote and make possible a very strong result for the SPD and give me the mandate to become the next Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany,” Scholz said after voting in the his. constituency of Potsdam near Berlin.
The election is expected to result in a divided parliament, forcing the winner to form a three-party coalition to secure a majority.
The most likely coalition scenarios see either the SPD or the conservative CDU / CSU bloc – whichever comes first – forming an alliance with the Greens and the Free Liberal Democrats (FDP).
Scholz told supporters in Potsdam on Saturday that his preferred outcome was for the SPD and the Greens to win a majority to rule on their own without a third partner.
The Conservatives and the FDP both reject a European “debt union” and want to ensure that the European Union’s joint borrowing to finance the bloc’s coronavirus stimulus package remains unique. The SPD has spoken of taking steps towards a fiscal union.
The Greens are in favor of a common European fiscal policy to support investments in the environment, research, infrastructure and education.
Scholz did not rule out a left coalition with the Greens and the Left Party, which wants to withdraw Germany from NATO, a red line for the SPD. – Reuters