Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats heading for polls win

Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) are edging towards election victory, as projected results look increasingly bleak for the party of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Ms Merkel’s successor, Armin Laschet, is still vowing to form a government, but his conservative CDU party has seen its worst performance in history.

The SPD currently leads by a small margin, but results are not yet final.

Their leader Olaf Scholz says his party has a clear mandate to rule.

Exit polls predicted a dead heat, but this election has been unpredictable from the start, and the result was never going to be the end of the story. For one thing, the outgoing chancellor is going nowhere until a coalition is formed – and that may have to wait until Christmas.

The successor’s task is to lead Europe’s foremost economy over the next four years, with climate change at the top of voters’ agenda.

Mr Scholz’s SPD supporters greeted him in raptures, but it was only later when his party edged into the lead that he told a televised audience the voters had given him the job of forming a “good, pragmatic government for Germany”.

His conservative rival hit back, arguing it was about forging a coalition, not about getting “an arithmetic majority”. Winner doesn’t take all, in other words.

“Two maybe-chancellors and two kingmakers” was one of the headlines summing up Sunday night’s rather scrappy result, but that is what it looked like.

Because it’s not just the Social Democrat and conservative leaders fighting for power. The two kingmakers are the Greens and the liberal, pro-business FDP, and they are open to offers.

His conservative rival hit back, arguing it was about forging a coalition, not about getting “an arithmetic majority”. Winner doesn’t take all, in other words.

“Two maybe-chancellors and two kingmakers” was one of the headlines summing up Sunday night’s rather scrappy result, but that is what it looked like.

Because it’s not just the Social Democrat and conservative leaders fighting for power. The two kingmakers are the Greens and the liberal, pro-business FDP, and they are open to offers. (Courtesy BBC)

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