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German election 2021: Both CDU and SPD aim to form coalitions — live updates

  • September 27, 2021
  • The Social Democrats have emerged as the strongest party, slightly ahead of Merkel’s conservatives
  • A surge in votes has made the Greens possible kingmakers, along with the pro-business Free Democrats
  • SPD’s Olaf Scholz says he wants to build a coalition with the Greens and FDP before Christmas
  • CDU’s Armin Laschet has also claimed a mandate to try and form a government

Last updated at 12:46 GMT/UTC

Scholz proves popular for SPD voters, Laschet less so among CDU

Voters have been asked what they prioritized when casting their ballots: the manifesto/direction of their preferred party, the candidate, or a long-term commitment/allegiance.

Some 36% of SPD voters said they casted their ballot the way they did because of the candidate, Olaf Scholz.

This is in comparison with 18% of CDU voters, who seemed to give less importance their party’s chancellor candidate choice, Armin Laschet.

Voters for the Greens (82%), Die Linke (77%), FDP (72%), AfD (71%) appeared to prioritize party policy, over the choice of candidate.

Around 30% of CDU voters said they supported their party due to a long-term commitment, in comparison with 15% of SPD voters.

FDP popular among young voters

Young people flocked to the FDP and the Greens. 

More than a fifth of those casting their ballots for the business-focused party were in the 18-24 age group.

Some 23% of people from the same age group made up all of the Green party’s votes.

Just 7% of the AfD’s voters were 24 or under.

Germany’s north-south divide

In terms of geography and how people voted, the SPD dominated the north of Germany while the CDU remained strong in the south.

The Greens won a smattering of seats in the Bundestag across the country, and the AfD were the most popular party in the eastern states of Saxony and Thuringia after the CDU slumped there.

Two transgender women win seats in the Bundestag

Two transgender women from the Green Party are set to join the German parliament.

Tessa Ganserer, 44, of Nuremberg in southeastern Bavaria and Nyke Slawik, 27, of North Rhine-Westphalia, won seats in the Bundestag.

Ganserer told Reuters: “It is a historic victory for the Greens, but also for the trans-emancipatory movement and for the entire queer community.”

Laschet: ‘I share responsibility for this result,’ seeks ‘exploratory talks’

The leader of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, Armin Laschet, said that Sunday’s election was “not one we can be happy with,” although he celebrated the fact that “we were able to prevent a left wing coalition.”

“Of course I know that I have a personal share of responsibility in this result,” he said referring to the CDU’s worst result since 1945.

“Whether or not we end up being in opposition or taking on government responsibility, we have to carry out a renewal of the Christian Democratic Union,” Laschet said.

Germany is facing “difficult challenges” following the inconclusive election results. “No party has emerged from this election with a very clear mandate to form a government,” he said.

“Having exploratory talks with all potential partners is necessary,” he said, stressing that they will have to work to find common ground between three different parties.

“I believe that we could indeed contribute to a coalition of the CDU, the Green party and the FDP,” he said, stressing the term “sustainability” in terms of the environment and the economy. The conservative leader said his party agreed with the FDP on the importance of returning to economic growth and with the Greens on reducing C02 emissions.

International reactions to Germany’s elections

The Kremlin said there is hope for “continuity” and “dialogue” with Germany after looking at the results from yesterday’s federal election. Russia did not comment on who it hopes would prefer to lead the future German government, but said “as far as we understand, the process of creating a coalition will be lengthy and complicated.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he anticipates greater cooperation with Germany after SPD leads in the German elections.

France’s European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said of the results on France 2 television: “I would say that, on a certain level, the Germans have voted for Angela Merkel.”

Returning from Camp David Sunday evening, Biden responded: “They’re solid,” when told SPD was leading in the German elections.

Bavarian conservative sister party reacts to electoral ‘defeat’

Markus Söder from the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Laschet’s Christian Democrats (CDU), discussed the failures of the conservative union in Sunday’s election.

“Yesterday’s result is disappointing for the whole Union, and yes it was a defeat, that’s true for the CDU and it’s true for the CSU,” the state premier for Bavaria said.

He went on to celebrate the Bavarian party’s success in direct constituencies, saying: “We had the best result in Germany, winning 45 out of 46 direct constituency votes.” He added that this was “particularly noteworthy” as the CDU lost a lot of its directly elected seats.

Söder ran through the areas where the conservatives lost, namely in eastern Germany, among young voters and among women. He added that there had been a clear tendency for change.

“We now have to seriously deal with all of this. Working through it doesn’t mean talking ourselves to death but it does mean being honest with ourselves, with an honest analysis,” he said.

Free Democrats confirm talks with Green party

The pro-free market FDP gave a press conference on Monday afternoon, clearly flush with having bounced back so significantly after nearly dropping out of the Bundestag two elections ago. “We have received a mandate to form a government with other parties,” they declared.

Leader Christian Lindner highlighted his party’s somewhat tenuous commonalities with the environmental and social justice-focused Green party, as it looked increasingly likely that the two parties would get to decide whether to form an alliance with the CDU or SPD.

Pro-business FDP gives a statement after becoming kingmaker

The Free Democratic Party (FDP) giving a statement on its historic results in Sunday’s election. The pro-free market party kept their double digit support from voters and may now become kingmakers in a possible coalition with the center-left SPD or center-right CDU.

Leader Christian Lindner had shown an interest in talking to the other kingmaker party, the Greens, before opening coalition talks with the bigger parties. DW has the live comments. You can watch it live on this page, or on your TV. It is also available live on YouTube.

SPD leader addresses UK truck driver shortage

In his first press conference since his party emerged as frontrunner, Olaf Scholz was asked by a British journalist whether he would consider sending drivers to help with the UK’s truck driver shortage.

“The free movement of labor is part of the European Union and we worked very hard to convince the British not to leave the union,” the SPD chancellor candidate responded.

He went on to add that the shortage in the UK “might have something to do with the question of wages. Being a trucker is something that many people like to be, and you find somehow that there are not enough of them, this has something to do with working conditions.”

He also stressed the importance of keeping good relations between Germany and the UK.

Scholz tries to woo Greens and FDP

“What is clear for us is that we can derive a mandate to build a government,” Olaf Scholz told reporters.

He laid out his preferred choice for a possible governing coalition. “The Green party and FDP won a considerable increase in votes, and this is why we will be trying to enter into coalitions with these parties.”

“We want to enter into a conversation with the other parties to form a government as quickly as possible,” he added.

“A social, environmental, liberal coalition does have a past here in Germany, there’s a tradition we can build on and it’s what we need to do if we can tackle the challenges of the future,” the possible future chancellor of Germany said.

Scholz then promised that Germany would have a new government before Christmas, one day after calling such a promise “absurd”. In 2017, the country went without a government for nearly six months as negotiations dragged on.

Green party sets out its conditions

Green Party co-leader Robert Habeck told Deutschlandfunk radio that “the SPD is, from what we’ve seen so far, the more progressive party.” The two could enter into a coalition, he said, but mathematically that would require a third party to join in order to create a majority. Habeck gave the example the traditionally yellow-colored pro-business FDP.

“But a [so-called] ‘traffic light’ coalition is not red and green with a bit of yellow speckled on it,” Habeck added, referring to the possible coalition between the SPD, whos traditional color is red, the Greens and the FDP.

He went on to set out minimum requirements for any possible coalition the Greens might join. “Every government must take measures against climate change,” he said, as well as adhere to the 2014 Paris climate agreement and tackle social inequality in Germany.

While the Greens are likely to become partners in Germany’s next government, their results fell shy of what chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock had hoped for

Left party reeling after bitter defeat

The socialist Left party took stock on Monday morning after tumbling in the polls and only getting seats in the Bundestag by the skin of its teeth.

Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, one of the two co-leaders of the Left party, said in a press conference that the reasons for the Left’s defeat were so “complex” that she couldn’t get into them during the short presser. 

She added that despite the many problems facing Germany, “there was no change,” to be seen after the result of Sunday’s vote.

Co-chair Janine Wissler called the result “a heavy blow” and said that the Left should “use the next four years” to “rebuild the party and deal with structural problems.”

CDU lawmaker blames party infighting

Patrick Sensburg, a member of parliament with the Christian Democrats (CDU), said that squabbles inside the party had kept their candidate for chancellor, Armin Laschet, from a clear victor. He particularly highlighted disputes between the CDU and its Bavarian sister party the CSU, whose leader Markus Söder had challenged Laschet for leadership of the bloc.

“We had the whole period, fights between our party coalition about the CDU and the CSU — and in the end, we don’t seem to have a team, we are fighting inside, and that’s one reason of the not satisfying result of this election,” Sensburg told DW in an interview.

However, Sensburg downplayed the idea that the CDU was out of the running: “I think it’s normal that also a party who [came] in second place can form a coalition […] The question is, can it be a strong coalition?”

“With the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP), we have lots of issues in common,” he added, referencing the third and fourth-place finishers whose alliances are likely to be crucial in coalition talks.

Laschet clings to hope of chancellorship

Michaela Küfner, DW’s chief political editor reported from the CDU headquarters regarding Armin Laschet’s attempts to form a coalition despite not gaining the most votes.  

“Laschet clearly had the strategy to put a very vague offer on the table to the two potential kingmakers, the Greens the Free Democrats, that in a coalition led by him, he would want them to make sure that they deliver to their voters what they had promised as well,” Küfner said.

“That’s a very generous offer to put on the table, and that underlines the will to cling to power here at the CDU headquarters,” she added, saying that there was clearly an attempt to keep up the appearance of standing behing Laschet “despite the fact that one can sense inner-party criticism bubbling beneath the surface.”

Scholz takes a victory lap

To kick off the morning’s flurry of closed-door discussions and press statements, the SPD leadership took a victory lap first thing in the morning by thanking voters and making it clear that no matter what the CDU claims, they do not have a mandate to form a government.

“The CDU got the the message from voters that they should not be in government,” Social Democrat leader and chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz said, referring to the conservatives’ historic losses.

“They told us that we should form the government, they strengthened three parties, the SPD, the Greens and the FPD. These parties should lead the next government.”

He added that the “three huge challenges” facing his potential future administration are “to create more respect in our society, to modernize our industry in our country and to stop and slow down man made climate change,” as well as strengthening the European Union.

Watch live — Germany takes stock the day after

Germany is waking up after an uncertain election night. While the preliminary results are now in, it’s still not yet clear who will be filling Angela Merkel’s shoes. One thing, however, is certain — tough coalition talks are ahead, and they all start today.

DW has live TV coverage of the latest developments on coalition talks and what experts are saying. You can watch it live on this page, or on your TV. It is also available live on YouTube.

The top brass for all parties in the Bundestag will be meeting today, with press conferences expected throughout the morning and early afternoon. The main topic of discussion today among the strongest four parties — the CDU, SPD, Greens, and pro-business FDP —  is likely to be their party’s role in Germany’s possible future coalition government.

Left party holds seat despite falling below threshold

The Left party failed to reach the 5% hurdle which blocks smaller parties from entering the Bundestag. However, they managed to hold onto their seats by passing an alternative hurdle — by winning at least three direct constituency votes. They held onto two constituencies in eastern Berlin and one in the eastern city of Leipzig.

Top candidate Dietmar Bartsch told public broadcaster ARD on Monday morning that the party had to ask itself some “fundamental questions” after Sunday’s “bitter defeat.”

Complicated coalition talks ahead

Despite the SPD’s stronger showing, CDU chief Armin Laschet has also indicated his desire to form a government, saying “the voters have given us the job to do. We’ll have to find commonalities probably between three political parties.”

With the German vote extremely fractured, there could be weeks or even months of messy coalition negotiations ahead. After the last federal election in 2017, it took six months to form a government after the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) walked out of talks with the CDU and the Green Party after a month. This resulted in a second four years of the so-called “grand coalition” of the CDU and SPD.

While another grand coalition of the two biggest parties is mathematically possible, both parties have appeared unenthusiastic about the prospect. The FDP and the Greens have signaled that they see themselves at kingmakers in a possible future government, but would need to hear what the CDU and SPD are offering first.

Norbert Walter-Borjans, co-chair of the SPD, appeared to cast doubt on a possible coalition between his party, the FDP, and the Greens on Monday morning. He told Deutschlandfunk radio that “the FDP wants dramatic tax cuts, they don’t want to take out loans but they also want to invest. That’s voodoo economics, it doesn’t work.” He added that he could not forsee that vision coalescing with that of the Greens in particular.

The CDU’s vice-chief Julia Klöckner, however, signaled that an alliance with the FDP and the Greens was exactly what her party wanted, saying there were “solid foundations” for such a coalition.

Click here for more on Germany’s possible coalition governments.

  • German election 2021: Governing coalition options

    Deciphering the color code

    The center-right Christian Democrat CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU are symbolized by the color black. The center-left Social Democrat SPD is red, as is the socialist Left Party. The neoliberal Free Democrats’ (FDP) color is yellow. And the Greens are self-explanatory. German media often refer to color combinations and national flags, using them as shorthand for political coalitions.

  • German election 2021: Governing coalition options

    Black, red, green — the Kenya coalition

    A coalition of center-right Christian Democrats (black) and center-left Social Democrats (red) plus the Green Party would secure a comfortable majority. Such a coalition has been in power in the state of Brandenburg. On a federal level this would be a first.

  • German election 2021: Governing coalition options

    Black, yellow and green — the Jamaica coalition

    The center-right Christian Democrats have often teamed up with the much smaller pro-free market Free Democrats (FDP) at the state and the national level over the years. Taking in the Greens to form a three-way coalition would be an option attractive to many in the CDU. But the Greens and the FDP do not make easy bedfellows, and a similar attempt failed after the last election in 2017.

  • German election 2021: Governing coalition options

    Black, red, yellow — the Germany coalition

    The center-right CDU and the center-left SPD plus the business-focused FDP. This combination would easily clear the 50% threshold in parliament, and would be the preferred option for business leaders and high-income earners. But if the SPD takes the lead we’d see red, black, yellow — a less conservative option.

  • German election 2021: Governing coalition options

    Red, red, green

    The Social Democrats teaming up with the Greens and the Left Party is a specter the conservatives like to raise whenever they perform badly in the polls. But the SPD and Left Party have a difficult history. And the Left’s extreme foreign policy positions would likley hamper negotiations.

  • German election 2021: Governing coalition options

    Red, yellow, green — a ‘traffic light’ coalition

    The free-market-oriented liberal FDP has in the past generally ruled out federal coalitions sandwiched between the Social Democrats and the Greens. But this year, the FDP has not ruled out any options. Germany’s traditional kingmaker party may above all be keen to return to power — no matter in which color combination.

  • German election 2021: Governing coalition options

    Black and red, red and black — the ‘grand coalition’

    A “grand coalition” of CDU and SPD, the “big tent parties,” has been in power for the past eight years with the conservatives taking the lead. If the election results allow it, this combination may continue in government … with the stronger party naming the chancellor.

    Author: Rina Goldenberg

SPD edges out conservatives, Greens surge

After a long election night, the SPD appeared to have come out ahead of the conservative bloc of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU. With 25.7% percent support, it was the SPD’s first victory over the CDU since Merkel took over in 2005.

However, not only was the victory slight — the CDU reached 24.1% — it is a far cry from the results of decades past, when either of Germany’s two biggest parties easily captured over 40%.

Despite this, the SPD’s Olaf Scholz accepted the result warmly, saying “we have what it takes to govern a country.” He promised to take a stronger stance against climate change and to modernize German industry should he become leader.

Nina Haase, DW’s political correspondent, pointed out that the center-left party won three elections last night — the parliamentary vote, and the state-level votes in Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. “That gave the party a big boost,” as they look to form a governing coalition in the Bundestag, she said from SPD headquarters in Berlin.

The SPD will have to look most likely at the business-friendly FDP and environmental Green party for coalition partners. Scholz “will really depend on what the FDP and Greens have to say,” Haase said.

Despite falling somewhat in the polls over the summer, the Green Party scored a historically strong 14.8%. Greens candidate Annalena Baerbock welcomed the result as a likely sign they will join the next German government as junior coalition partners.

jsi,es,ab/rs (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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