Historic German election ends, country waits for a coalition to form

Center-left party narrowly defeats the two-decade reign of conservatives

By Tyler Clifton, Staff Writer

Last week signaled a changing of the guard in German policies, with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) emerging victorious in the first election when the incumbent chancellor was not in the running. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she would not be running for reelection several months prior to the Sept. 26 election that has been one of the tightest races in the country’s history. 

The SPD emerged on top with 25.7% of the vote, marking the first time the center-left group won an election since Merkel’s rise to power in 2005. Merkel was the leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union for nearly two decades, and her retiring yielded a second-place finish for the party with 24.1% of the vote. Initial reports suggest Merkel’s absence had a negative impact on election day. 

The Green Party collected 14.8% of the vote, finishing third, and the Free Democratic Party came in fourth with 11.5% of the vote. Three additional parties, including the disappearing far-right party, acquired a small number of seats in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliamentary body. 

Now, German politicians are now tasked with forming a majority coalition that will elect the next chancellor. 

SPD leader Olaf Scholz explained that he has a clear mandate to form a government, while his CDU rival Armin Laschet is adamant about forming his own government. 

Currently, a number of coalitions are beginning to form within the new Bundestag. Presumably, SPD and CDU leaders will attempt to pull politicians from the Green Party into their coalition. 

This process has a precent for being slow and gradual. In 2017, it took long-time politician Angela Merkel 6 months of negotiating before she created her fourth and final government. 

In the wake of SPD’s narrow win and CDU’s hesitancy to relinquish its power, this coalition will take at least several weeks to form.   

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (photographed above) has stepped away from politics after 26 years at the helm of the CDU, the party which lost this fall’s election, presumably because of her absence.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.com