In Germany, polls open on Sunday morning. Germans are choosing a new government that Angela Merkel will not lead as chancellor for the first time in 16 years. About 60.4 million voters have to decide which party will rule in the European country with the largest population and largest economy.
For sixteen years, it ruled the largest economy in Europe. Merkel has ruled Germany with quiet determination, but today’s parliamentary elections herald the end of an era: Not only is Merkel retiring as chancellor, but the CDU/CSU’s future looks uncertain. There is a good chance that the Christian Democrats will end up in the opposition seats.
Voters can go to about 60,000 polling stations and have plenty of options. 47 parties participate in the elections, a number not seen, according to German media, since German reunification. In addition, 33 percent of the candidates are women, which is also a record number. The number of female voters in Germany also outnumbers male voters: 31.2 million compared to 29.2 million.
Armin Laschet’s mistakes
However, the main contenders to succeed Merkel are men. Her party colleague Armin Laschet, CDU leader and prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Finance Minister Olaf Schulz of the SPD (center-left) are leading in the elections with their parties.
German Chancellor Armin Laschet’s candidate already missed his vote on Sunday. He did not fold his ballot properly, so that passersby could see what sounded. The paparazzi were also able to capture this, according to a German media report.
A picture clearly shows the boxes marked by the prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia when he went to vote near his home in Aachen, a city close to the border with the Netherlands. His electoral behavior was not surprising: Laschet supports his CDU party.
He has already voted for his top rival Olaf Schulz, who has a narrow lead in opinion polls with the SPD. The current Chancellor of the Exchequer went to the polling station with his wife Britta in his hometown of Potsdam.
Laschet is not only the candidate for chancellor of the CDU, he is also the CSU’s sister party candidate from Bavaria. Marcus Soder, CEO of CSU, state premier, also cast his vote. He previously made a futile attempt to become a CDU/CSU candidate.
Germans can vote until 6 pm. Opinion polls are expected to come out immediately after that. The SPD narrowly led in the polls shortly before the election, but its sister party conservative bloc CDU/CSU narrowed the party by a few percentage points.
The eventual winner is not expected to have enough seats to judge alone. This means that a coalition must be formed with at least one and possibly two other political parties.
Opinion polls indicate that the Green Party will become the third party in Germany. Schulz has already shown that he is interested in allying with this environmental party. The Social Democratic Party (centre left) has been in coalition with the conservative CDU/CSU party in recent years.
The FDP and the right-wing populist Alternative Party are also expected to return to parliament. This is uncertain for the socialist D-Link. According to a recent poll, he can count on 5 percent of the vote, which is exactly the electoral threshold.
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