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Minggu, 26 September 2021

German elections: Left marginally ahead in vote to replace Angela Merkel - Sydney Morning Herald

London: Germany faces weeks if not months of negotiations over who will succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor following a tight election in which voters have shown little enthusiasm for the candidates vying to lead Europe’s largest economy.

Merkel, whose 16 years in office saw her dubbed the Queen of Europe and the world’s most powerful woman, will remain in power until a new coalition is formed.

Angela Merkel is given a round of applause at the election night party.

Angela Merkel is given a round of applause at the election night party.Credit:Getty

Her strong popularity failed to translate into support for her centre-right party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and its candidate for chancellor Armin Laschet.

Laschet paid tribute to Merkel before conceding he was “not happy” with the result from Sunday’s poll. Standing on stage at the sombre election party, Merkel nodded and waved when the party faithful gave her a lengthy applause.

In the final count announced by officials on Monday, the CDU’s estimated share of the vote fell to 24.1 per cent – its worst result since 1949.

Analysts said the lacklustre showing was due, in part, to Merkel’s absence from the ballot, a gaffe-prone campaign by Laschet and the increasing fragmentation of German politics.

Armin Laschet grimaces after the results start to flow in.

Armin Laschet grimaces after the results start to flow in.Credit:AP

The CDU’s main rivals, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), won 25.9 per cent, prompting its leader Olaf Scholz to claim a mandate to form the next government.

“The voters of this country have decided that the SPD should rise upwards and that is a big success,” Sholz said.

“This is going to be a long election evening, that is certain. But it is also certain that many put their cross by the SPD because they want the next chancellor of Germany to be called Olaf Scholz.”

Unlike Australia, Germany is almost always ruled by coalition governments, which are usually led by the CDU or SPD with the support of smaller parties.

Neither major party will be happy with their result. Matthew Goodwin, a professor of politics at the University of Kent, noted the combined vote for the two major parties had fallen from 78 per cent in 1994 to 50 per cent in Sunday’s vote.

The Greens will play a central role in the upcoming negotiations after securing a record-high 14.8 per cent of the vote on Sunday – although that result was well down on the polling highs it achieved during the campaign.

One option for a new coalition government was one made up of the SPD, the Greens and the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), which finished fourth with 11.5 per cent. Scholz would replace Merkel as chancellor and the environment, transport and even foreign ministries could go to the Greens.

Another option is for the CDU to remain in power with the support of the Greens and FDP. The FDP’s political philosophy is a closer fit to the CDU than the SPD.

Olaf Scholz has sought to claim a mandate following the election.

Olaf Scholz has sought to claim a mandate following the election.Credit:Getty

The FDP’s leader, Christian Lindner, said: “The election result is not easy to read. None of the former popular parties has more than 25 to 26 per cent of the vote. So 75 per cent of Germans didn’t vote for the party that will provide the next chancellor.”

The negotiations will run for weeks and may even take months. If the talks extend to December, Merkel would overtake her mentor Helmut Kohl for the title of postwar Germany’s longest-serving chancellor.

While the Greens performed well on Sunday, analysts cautioned against interpreting the national poll as a swing to the left. The SPD’s result was an improvement on its dismal performance at the 2017 election but still well short of what it could once be expected to achieve.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) took 10.3 per cent of the national vote but attracted much stronger support in parts of the country’s east. The CDU and SPD have both ruled out asking the AfD to be in a coalition.

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2021-09-26 19:21:54Z
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