Germany Election Result: Angela Merkel's party narrowly loses to Social Democrats; Olaf Scholz likely to be new German Chancellor

Angela Merkel had taken office in 2005, becoming the first female chancellor of Germany. Ever since she took office, she has been described as the de facto leader of the European Union, the most powerful woman and one of the world's most successful political leaders.

Created On: Sep 27, 2021 14:40 IST
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Germany Election Result 2021: Angela Merkel's conservative party has narrowly lost the 2021 German National Elections, marking an end to 16 years of conservative-led rule. The Social Democrats claimed a clear mandate to lead the government for the first time since 2005, but they have not won the majority. 

The center-left party has reportedly won 26 percent of the vote, ahead of 24.5 percent vote won by Merkel's CDU/CSU conservative bloc, as per the projected results revealed on September 26, 2021. Neither bloc have won a majority and they are not very keen to form a grand coalition like they did in the past four years. 

While a three-way alliance seems to be the most viable route, it could take months for the parties to agree to a new coalition, leaving Merkel in charge in a caretaker role. The new coalition is likely to be led by either the Social Democrats or Merkel's conservatives and could involve the smaller parties- Greens and Free Democrats (FDP). 

The German Ambassador to India, Walter J Lindner, was quoted saying, "As an optimist I think we will have the next government in Germany by Christmas, negotiations among parties are going on."

Who could be the next German Chancellor?

Social Democrats' candidate, Olaf Scholz could be the next German Chancellor. Following the results, Scholz had said that his party would "do everything we can to ensure we're done by Christmas." His goal reportedly is to form a coalition with the Greens and Free Democrats. Olaf Scholz is currently serving as Germany's Finance Minister and Merkel's deputy in the grand coalition. 

Scholz was quoted saying during a round table discussion with other candidates after the vote that his party is ahead in all the surveys and it is an encouraging message and a clear mandate to make sure that they get a good, pragmatic government for Germany.

If Social Democrats' do manage to form the new government in Germany, the 63-year-old Scholz would become the fourth post-war SPD chancellor after Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schroeder.

Angela Merkel's retirement creates a huge vacuum?

The incumbent German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not run in the 2021 German national elections, marking the first time in the history of the Federal Republic that an incumbent did not run. She has decided to retire after serving as German Chancellor for 16 years. Her stepping down has left a huge vacuum in the heart of German politics.

Angela Merkel had taken office in 2005, becoming the first female chancellor of Germany. Ever since she took office, she has been described as the de facto leader of the European Union, the most powerful woman and one of the world's most successful political leaders.

She has stood large on the European stage since the time when George W. Bush was US president, Tony Blair was UK Prime Minister and Jacques Chirac was the French President. She has dealt with four US Presidents, five UK Prime Ministers, four French Presidents and seven Italian Prime Ministers during her 16-year rule. 

Who is CDU/CSU bloc's candidate?

Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU conservative bloc had fielded Armin Laschet as its top candidate, who has signaled that the bloc is not ready to give up yet. The 60-year-old said during the round table that "It hasn't always been the first-placed party that provided the chancellor."
Laschet stated that he wants a government where every partner is involved and visible and not one where only the chancellor gets to shine.

Social Democratic Party's Helmut Waldemar Schmidt had served as the Chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982 in coalition with the Free Democrats even though his party had won fewer parliamentary seats than the conservative bloc.

New German Government months away?

Germany's allies in Europe and beyond may have to wait for months before they can engage with the new German government. The change of government in Germany comes at a crucial time when relations between France and the US, Australia are strained over the new AUKUS pact. Germany is yet to respond to the situation. 

Background

The Social Democratic Party's gain in 2021 German National Elections marks a major comeback for the party after the historic defeat in the 2017 National Elections. The SDP is one of the two major parties of contemporary Germany along with the Angela Merkel-led Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU). 

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