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German elections: a snatched victory for the Social Democrats

German elections: a snatched victory for the Social Democrats

We expected the elections to be close, but not at this point. A snatched victory by Olaf Schulz (Social Democratic Party) on Sunday evening in Germany over his Christian Democratic rival Armin Laschet (CDU-CSU). The two candidates who had been feuding over the succession of Angela Merkel arrived in a handkerchief. So much so that, on Sunday evening, for the first time in the country’s modern history, the two leading candidates demanded the right to form a government coalition.

Since the beginning of the evening Olaf Schulz has claimed victory as a poll at the exit gave the SPD a very slight lead and gave another tie with the CDU-CSU. After being a few points behind, Armin Laschet also claimed the right to start negotiations. It would not be the first since the German chancellor was elected by a coalition that includes the majority of elected officials, regardless of which party comes at the top of the list. In 1969, Social Democrat Willie Brandt came to power, while his party came behind the Christian Democrats.

If, at the headquarters of the Social Democratic Party, one wore a smile of victory, then disappointment was noticeable among the supporters of Armin Laschet. His party scored the worst result in its history on Sunday, losing more than 8 points since the 2017 elections. On the contrary, to everyone’s surprise, Angela Merkel’s finance minister, Olaf Scholz, won more than 5 points for a party said to have been in decline for 15 years over the least.

Germans voted for change […] “They want more respect in this country, an industrial strategy and better environmental protection,” said Olaf Schultz. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations that will begin this week, this election looks like a personal victory for the former mayor of Hamburg unloved by his party since his defeat at the helm of his squad it must be said, to the left of him.

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Merkel’s shadow

Observers will note that during the election campaign, the person who unlocked his wallet during the COVID-19 pandemic was a true continuation of Angela Merkel. A successful strategy since, according to polls, 1.4 million votes could have passed from CDU-CSU to SPD. We are a business party. We know how to govern and we have everything it takes to do so,” added Olaf Schultz.

Even if, on Sunday, his party was far from admitting defeat, this election, on the contrary, looks like a bitter defeat for Armin Laschet. This candidate from the old guard of the CDU, his description woman As “the embodiment of boredom in politics,” he snatched the nomination from the CSU’s hugely popular president Markus Söder, clearly more oath than him. Laschet would pile on the blunders until the last minute since, before he was deposited into the ballot box, with an awkward gesture, he unfortunately allowed to see who he was voting for, which is illegal in Germany.

Germans vote for change […] They want more respect in this country, an industrial strategy and better environmental protection

Disappointment was also noticeable among the Green Party, whose candidate Annalena Barbock led in all opinion polls at the start of the election campaign. That was without counting her bloated autobiography and the accusations of plagiarism leveled at her. Nevertheless, the party scored one of the best results in its history (15%), even if “it wasn’t what we had hoped for,” said the party’s co-chair, Robert Habeck.

The FJP liberals were happy to finally find a double-digit result (11%). On Sunday evening, its leader, Christian Lindner, presented himself as a kingmaker. In 2017, Lindner refused to participate in Angela Merkel’s government. On Sunday, he did not appear to be ruling out any scenarios and said he wanted to speak to the Greens first. These two parties, both representing electors from privileged neighborhoods in the big cities, could impose their terms on one of the two major parties.

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With 11% of the vote, the far-right Alternative Party, which entered parliament in 2017 after the migrant crisis, loses a few points, but it is an integral part of the political landscape. On the contrary, with 5% of the vote, Die Linke’s extreme left literally collapses. On Sunday, the party was unsure whether it would be represented in Parliament. On the right, fears about his participation in an alliance with the SPD immediately evaporated.

Triple Alliance

With such a split in the vote, forming a coalition government will be more complex than ever. In 2017, it took nearly six months to achieve this. After several attempts, Angela Merkel had to resolve to ally with the SPD and form the so-called “Grand Alliance” in Germany. This year, Olaf Schulz said the SPD would reject any alliance with the CDU-CDU. And on Sunday evening, Armin Laschet announced that it was “not a thing to do.”

So the only possibility is a coalition of three parties. Nothing in the German constitution prevents a party in second place from trying its luck. Therefore, it is not excluded that the Social Democratic Party, the CDU and the Christian Social Union will engage in negotiations of their own. Most observers believe Germany will have no government before Christmas, even if the candidates on Sunday vowed to move quickly.

With mail voting reaching its climax, on a glorious summer’s day in Berlin, queues outside polling stations were not uncommon. Even some polling stations, such as the one at Ustinov School in Charlottenburg, ran out. In some neighborhoods, we went to get them by bike. It must be said that in Berlin the referendum and the election of the district council were held at the same time.

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At the end of the Bundestag there were 709 deputies. No one knew exactly how many would be next Sunday, as a variable number of deputies elected through the list system was added to the 598 elected deputies representing constituencies in order to balance the proportional vote obtained by each party.

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