In close German election, Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats narrowly defeat Angela Merkel’s conservatives

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Germany’s Social Democrats said on Monday they would begin the process of trying to form a three-way coalition and lead the government for the first time since 2005, as they won a modest victory in Sunday’s national election.

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The Social Democrats’ chancellor candidate, Olaf Scholz, said he aimed to form a coalition with the Greens and the Liberal Free Democrats (FDP), adding that the Germans voted to send Angela Merkel’s conservatives into opposition after 16 years in power Was.

“What you see here is a very happy SPD,” Scholz, 63, told supporters at his party’s headquarters in Berlin, holding a bunch of red and white flowers.

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“The voters have spoken very clearly … they strengthened three parties – the Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP – and so the citizens of this country have given a clear mandate – all three should form the next government.”

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According to the provisional results, the SPD won 25.7 percent of the vote, ahead of Merkel’s 24.1% for the CDU/CSU conservative bloc. The Greens came in at 14.8% and the FDP at 11.5%.

Following the election of Democrat Joe Biden as US President in 2020, the recovery of the SPD marks a temporary revival for centre-left parties in parts of Europe. Norway’s centre-left opposition party also won the election earlier this month.

Scholz, who was finance minister in Merkel’s outgoing ‘grand coalition’, said on Sunday he hoped to agree a coalition before Christmas. But his Christian Democrat rival Armin Lachett, 60, said he could try to form a government even as conservatives lead to his worst election result ever.

Merkel, who did not seek a fifth term as chancellor, will remain in a caretaker role during coalition talks that will determine the future course of Europe’s largest economy.

investor relief

German shares rose on Monday, with investors delighted that the pro-business FDP was likely to join the next government, while the far-left Linke failed to win enough votes to be considered as a coalition partner.

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“From a market point of view, it should be good news that a left-wing alliance is mathematically impossible,” said LBBW economist Jens-Olivier Niklas, adding that the other parties had enough to find a compromise to work with.

“Personality and ministerial position will probably be more important in the end than policies.”

The parties will start giving voice to each other on Monday about a possible alliance in informal discussions.

The Greens and the FDP said late Sunday that they would first talk to each other to find areas of compromise before starting talks with the SPD or conservatives.

If Scholz succeeds in forming the coalition, the former mayor of Hamburg would become only the two SPD chancellors since the Fourth World War and the first since Merkel took over from Gerhard Schroeder in 2005.

Merkel has been a prominent figure on the European stage ever since – George W. Bush was the US President, Jacques Chirac was the French leader and Tony Blair was the British Prime Minister.

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But Berlin’s allies in Europe and beyond will probably have to wait months to see how the new German government will act on international issues.

Believing that Scholz could come to an agreement with the Greens and the FDP, the Greens could provide a foreign minister, as he had done with Joshka Fischer in his previous two-way alliance with the SPD, while the FDP was eyeing finance. on the ministry.

A row between Washington and Paris over a deal for Australia to buy the US instead of French submarines has put Germany in an awkward position among allies, but Berlin needs to fix ties and reconsider a common Western stance on China. Also given the opportunity to help.

On economic policy, French President Emmanuel Macron is keen on creating a common European fiscal policy, which is supported by the Greens but rejected by the CDU/CSU and the FDP. The Greens also want a “massive expansion offensive for renewables.”

One thing is certain: a future government will not include the far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD), which scored 10.3% on Sunday, down from 12.6% four years ago when they first voted in the national parliament. had entered. All mainstream politicians deny an alliance with the party.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Granthshala editors, giving you a brief summary of the day’s most important headlines. .

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