German election exit polls on Sunday indicated that the Social Democratic Party is virtually neck-and-neck with the conservative alliance, after one of the country’s most significant votes in recent years.
The early projections show the SPD, and the right-leaning bloc of the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union, are both on track for around 25 of the vote.
The first exit poll, which was released by public broadcaster ARD soon after voting finished at 6 p.m. local time, pointed to the Green Party getting 15% of the vote. The liberal Free Democratic Party was seen with 11% of the vote, as was the right-wing Alternative for Germany party. The left-wing Die Linke party was seen with 5% of the vote.
An alternative exit poll by broadcaster ZDF saw the SPD with 26% of the vote, slightly ahead of the CDU-CSU with 24% of the vote.
Both the SPD and CDU-CSU immediately claimed a mandate to govern. The SPD’s secretary general said the left-leaning party wants its candidate, Olaf Scholz, to become chancellor. Meanwhile, the CDU-CSU’s secretary general said that the exit polls suggested a coalition of the CDU-CSU, Greens and FDP is possible.
The election is significant because it heralds the departure of Angela Merkel, who is preparing to leave office after 16 years in power.
Recent German elections had failed to throw up any real surprises with Merkel’s re-election relatively assured. But this election race has differed by being wide open and too close to call, even up to the last days before the vote. / to be continued