AS IT HAPPENED: German politicians ready teams for post-election talks

AS IT HAPPENED: German politicians ready teams for post-election talks
Co-leader of Germany's Greens (Die Gruenen) and the party's candidate for chancellor Annalena Baerbock (R) and the Greens' party co-leader Robert Habeck address a press conference in Berlin on September 27, 2021, one day after general elections. Photo: John MACDOUGALL / various sources / AFP
The centre-left SPD has emerged as the strongest party in Germany - now the coalition talks begin. Here's how the day after the elections unfolded.

Key points:

  • The centre-left Social Democrats emerged as the strongest party on election night, with the CDU/CSU nipping at their heels in second place
  • At the final count, Olaf Scholz’s SPD took 25.7 percent of the vote, followed closely by Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their candidate Armin Laschet on 24.1 percent
  • It’s the CDU’s worst post-war result
  • Other results show the Greens on 14.8 percent, the Free Democrats (FDP) with 11.5 percent, Alternative for Germany (AfD) with 10.3 percent
  • Candidates for each of the two biggest parties say they are keen to form a governing coalition ‘by Christmas’. They both say they have a mandate to govern
  • Talks will begin on Monday, though the CDU/CSU is likely to be left without a sparring partner for a while as the FDP prioritises talks with the Greens, and the Greens prioritise talks with the SPD and FDP
  • Die Linke (the Left) narrowly missed the 5 percent threshold to enter parliament, but managed to secure the three direct mandates it needs to enter nonetheless
  • Read all our recent election coverage HERE.

5:45pm: We’re ending our live blog today but check out the site for more analysis and updates on the aftermath of Germany’s Super Election Day. Thanks for joining us for our election coverage – we hope you’ve found it useful.

5:15pm: CDU politician calls for Laschet’s exit on Twitter

Ellen Demuth, a CDU MP in Rhineland-Palatinate, has called on her party leader Armin Laschet to resign on Twitter.

“I wish this tweet was superfluous. I wish there was some self-awareness,” she wrote. “I’m afraid all I can say is: Armin Laschet, you have lost. Please have some insight. Avert further damage to the CDU and resign.”

So far the tweet has gained over 6,000 likes. 

5:05pm: Parties’ policies on dual nationality 

German voters have overwhelmingly mentioned ‘climate’ as the key issue in this election, but it’s an important one for many migrants as well.

Ahead of the crucial vote, citizens’ rights campaign group British in Germany shared which of the major political parties were in favour of changing the country’s rules on dual nationality – a move that would allow millions to become German and gain sought-after free movement and voting rights.

4:50pm: Laschet under fire

After the CDU/CSU suffered their worst election result since the war, infighting and mud-slinging has begun in the conservative camp – and the pressure is mounting on Armin Laschet in particular.

In his home state of North Rhine-Westphalia, parties members are calling for Laschet to concede his position as state premier to Hendrik Wüst, who is being considered as his successor. 

“I think it would be good if we worked out a roadmap for the NRW CDU for the coming days and weeks,” Johannes Winkel, the state’s Junge Union chair, told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

4:30pm: Giffey will ‘respect’ the result of housing referendum

After coming out on top in Berlin’s mayoral elections, all eyes have been on the SPD’s Franziska Giffey to see whether she will implement the results of the housing referendum.

On Sunday night, a majority of Berliners voted ‘yes’ on proposals to seize thousands of properties from mega landlords and bring them into state hands. But campaigners were unsure whether Giffey, who had previously come out against the referendum, would be prepared to follow through on the non-binding vote.

Speaking to regional radio station RBB24 on Monday, Mayor Giffey confirmed she would be prepared to draft the new law – though she said it would be subject to legal checks to see if it complied with the German constitution.

Political journalist Aaron Burnett has written a cracking bit of analysis for us on the aftermath of the referendum and what it means for Berlin’s tense housing market.

You can read it here: Berlin’s super election day: What does it mean for the city’s housing shortage?

3:47pm: UK’s German Ambassador praises Scholz for speaking English

As we reported earlier, the SPD’s Olaf Scholz was asked a question earlier on Britain’s current shortage of lorry drivers post-Brexit which is currently disrupting the supply of petrol to stations in the UK.

The German Ambassador to the UK has praised Scholz for accepting – and even answering – the question in English, something that “doesn’t happen too often” in German politics.

The issue of lorry driver shortages has been widely linked to Brexit – and Scholz didn’t miss an opportunity to express his dissatisfaction with the UK’s decision to exit the bloc.

“We worked hard to convince the British not to leave the Union,” he said. But he also linked the lack of lorry drivers to poor working conditions and insufficient wages.

“If you understand that being a trucker is something which many people really like to be, and you find not enough, this has something to do with working conditions,” he added.

3:30pm: SPD and Greens prepare teams for coalition talks

The Social Democrats have decided on a six-member team who will lead ‘exploratory’ talks with the FDP and Greens before they get down to the nitty gritty of trying to form a coalition.

The team will include chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz – who has experience of building coalitions in his home stage of Hamburg – as well as party leaders Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans, secretary general Lars Klingbeil, parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich and Rhineland-Palatinate state premier Malu Dreyer.

According to reports in the German media, the party executive committee has agreed that no “red lines” will be formulated before the talks.

The co-leaders of the Green Party, Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, will be going into exploratory talks together and have confirmed they will prioritise talks with the SPD and FDP.


Co-leader of Germany’s Greens and the party’s candidate for chancellor Annalena Baerbock (R) and the Greens’ party co-leader Robert Habeck address a press conference in Berlin. Photo: John MACDOUGALL / POOL / AFP

3:15pm: Germany set for “talks about talks” 

Germans as a whole may be known for their efficiency and directness – but its politicians often like to take the scenic route.

What could be a better example of that than the plans for the upcoming talks between the Greens and FDP, which will essentially be talks about holding coalition talks? 

2:30pm: “No party has a mandate to govern,” says Laschet

CDU chancellor candidate Armin Laschet has admitted responsibility for the loss to the Social Democratic Party and claimed that the conservative party “needs renewal”.

The CDU-CSU alliance “cannot be satisfied with this result,” he said in a press conference following a meeting with the party leadership in Berlin, adding that “renewal is needed in all areas”. He nevertheless said he was ready to head a coalition government, saying “no party” – not even the Social Democrats – could claim a mandate to govern from Sunday’s vote outcome.

Laschet promised an “intensive overhaul” of the party, as its main asset Angela Merkel prepares to leave power after 16 years as chancellor. “This overhaul means a clear and no-holds-barred analysis,” he said.


The leader of Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and candidate for Chancellor Armin Laschet addresses a press conference following a CDU leadership meeting at the party’s headquarters in Berlin on September 27th. Photo: Ina Fassbender / AFP

2pm: Could migration be a sticking point in talks between the CDU/CSU and FDP?

You may have seen the word ‘Jamaica’ trending on German Twitter this morning. No, everyone in the country isn’t booking a holiday to Caribbean simultaneously. The green, black and yellow of the Jamaican flag represents a potential coalition between the CDU/CSU (black), FDP (yellow) and the Greens. 

One important thing to remember about this type of coalition is that it was also on the table after the 2017 elections. Last time, however, the FDP’s Lindner dramatically walked out of talks at the last minute, citing disagreements about migration.

“It’s better not to govern at all than to govern badly,” the FDP’s young leader said at the time.

Now, the question is – will migration issues be another sticking point in coalition talks? Given the FDP and Greens’ positive views towards subjects like dual citizenship and immigration – and the CDU’s notorious antipathy towards both – it certainly could be. 

If you want to know more about the three possible governments on the table, and what might stand in the way of coalition talks, then check out our analysis here:

EXPLAINED: Who will be in Germany’s next coalition government?

1:38pm: European social democrats congratulate Scholz

Centre-left parties from across the European Union have been lining up to congratulate Olaf Scholz on his election win – including the Norwegian Labour Party who recently took the top spot in Norway’s September elections.

“Congratulations from Norway!”, the likely head of the future government, Jonas Gahr Støre, wrote on Twitter. It was an “impressive result after an inspiring election campaign”, he said. 

READ ALSO: ‘Resurrection’: How the SPD bounced back to win German vote

Spain’s social democratic Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, meanwhile, said he looked forward to working with Scholz in the future and predicted that the two countries could enjoy a better working relationship. 

And the UK Labour Party’s Kier Starmer said Scholz’s victory showed that “positive leadership matters”. 

1:04pm – What would life be like under an SPD-led coalition – or a CDU/CSU-led one?

Coalition talks will be underway soon. But both the CDU/CSU and the SPD will race to try and form a government.

Wondering what your life would be like under an SPD-led, or a CDU-led, coalition?

Then check out our recent articles:

12:57pm: Kremlin wants ‘continuity’ in ties with Germany

The Kremlin said on Monday it hoped for “continuity” in Moscow’s ties with Berlin as Germany braces for a period of political instability in the wake of a general election.

“Of course, we count on continuity in our bilateral relations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters at AFP, adding that while there are disagreements between the countries, “we are united by an understanding that problems can and should be solved only through dialogue.”

12:44pm – A look at how Germany has voted since 1990

This graph, translated into English for us by Statista, shows the share of vote received by party in federal elections since reunification – showing the clear decline of the so-called Volksparteien (people’s parties), the SPD and the CDU/CSU.

(The results of the 2021 election are at the top)

12:16pm – Olaf Scholz answers a question on Britain’s petrol and lorry driver crisis

11:45am – Scholz aiming to pull together coalition by Christmas

Germany’s Social Democrat chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz has shrugged off uncertainties plaguing the country amid a challenge from the rival conservatives to form a coalition after election results showed a narrow win for his centre-left party, reported AFP.

“You should know that Germany always has coalitions, and it was always stable,” he said, adding that he aimed to pull together a governing majority by Christmas.

11:12am – Which parties did the Union lose voters to?

The graph below shows how voters moved towards or against the CDU/CSU (Union) in the election – with a huge number of Union supporters switching to the SPD, FDP and Greens. Around 130,000 Union voters chose to not cast their ballot. 

Meanwhile, about 90,000 voters from the AfD and the Left party combined migrated to the CDU/CSU. 

10:57am – CDU politicians taking stock of defeat

After suffering their worst results since the war – and coming second in the election – the centre-right CDU/CSU’s Armin Laschet says he still wants to form a government. 

But Saxony’s CDU state leader Michael Kretschmer said on Monday that this would be a mistake. 

“I see a clear will of the voters, which has made it clear that the Union is not the first choice this time,” Kretschmer told Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR).

(article continues below)

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The election results were “an earthquake” and a clear vote against the Union, he said. For Kretschmer, it’s a matter of “accepting this defeat with dignity”.

The CDU’s chancellor candidate Laschet said the Union had a mandate to form a government because the results are so close. 

According to the preliminary official results, the CDU/CSU plunged to a record low of 24.1 percent after 16 years in government under Chancellor Angela Merkel. The centre-left SPD moved ahead with 25.7 percent of the vote. 

In Saxony, the far-right AfD won the most votes with 24.6 percent. It was followed by the SPD with 19.3 percent and the CDU with 17.2 percent. 

Saxony’s CDU state leader Michael Kretschmer looking defeated on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

Meanwhile, in an interview with German daily Welt, CDU economic politician Carsten Linnemann was also critical of his party’s reaction. He said he was concerned that “by concentrating on forming a government, the process of coming to terms with the situation within the party is being left behind”.

The result was for the CDU “a punch in the stomach. We must not gloss over this, but draw the right conclusions from it.”

10:36pm – Voter turnout up from 2017

Here’s a look at the turnout, and how the Bundestag will look under the provisional official results. 

10:22am – Greens and FDP to become kingmakers

In the fractured political landscape of the post-Merkel era, the most likely outcome will be a three-way alliance – ending the post-war tradition of two-party coalition governments, said AFP on Monday.

“The poker game for power begins,” wrote Der Spiegel weekly.

The Süddeutsche newspaper said the vote revealed that “Germans longed for change, but lost their nerve a bit.”

The SPD’s Olaf Scholz and the CDU’s Armin Laschet will be looking to the Greens (14.5 percent) and the liberal, pro-business FDP party (11.5 percent) to cobble together a parliamentary majority.

The two kingmakers however are not natural bedfellows, diverging on issues like tax hikes and public investment in climate protection.

10:06am – How did the youngsters vote?

The Greens were the party of choice for the under 30s in this election, according to analysis. The next most popular party for the young ones was the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP). The SPD were next in line. As you can see from the graph below, the CDU/CSU, AfD and the Left party did not really inspire the younger generations. 

And here’s a look at how the under 25s voted compared to the over 70s. As you can see from the graphic below, the older generation tended to vote for the CDU/CSU and SPD, while the younger people went for the Greens and FDP. 

9:53am – How Germany voted 

9:40am – A recap of the official preliminary results 

After an extremely close race, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) emerged on top with 25.7 percent of the vote. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the CSU managed 24.1 percent of the vote. The Greens took 14.8 percent, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) snagged 11.5 percent and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) took 10.3 percent. Die Linke – the Left party – took 4.9 percent. 

9:34am – Berlin votes ‘yes’ to socialising housing 

Berlin’s referendum on the expropriation of rental homes from large private companies to the state was successful. A total of 56.4 percent of voters voted in favour in the referendum held on Sunday, while 39 percent rejected the plan.

More than one million Berliners spoke out in favour of the move, according to the state election administration on Monday morning.

Under the title “Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co”, Berliners were able to vote on whether large housing corporations – such as Deutsche Wohnen and Vonovia, which have more than 3,000 apartments, should be expropriated.

Now the Berlin Senate is called upon to “initiate all measures” necessary to transfer real estate into common ownership and to draft a law to this end.

But the Senate is not legally obliged to do this – so it’s unclear on whether this will happen. It will depend on the make-up of Berlin’s new city government. 

The SPD (who won the Berlin vote), CDU, AfD and FDP are – like the business community – against expropriation. The Left Party is in favour, while the Greens consider this proposal “as a last resort.”

9:15am – Social Democrats’ Olaf Scholz says Germany wants a coalition government with SPD, the Greens and the FDP

The SPD’s Olaf Scholz spoke in Berlin this morning after the centre left’s party’s narrow victory. 

Sounding statesmanlike and calm, Scholz said voters have sent a clear signal that the SPD “should form the government”.

“The voters made it very clear,” he said. “They strengthened three parties – the SPD, FPD, and the Greens. These three parties should lead the next government. 

“And there is something else that needs to be said – the CDU/CSU not only lost a lot of votes, they also got a message from the voters that they should not be in government, but move over to the opposition.” 

The SPD’s Olaf Scholz with Berlin SPD winner Franziska Giffey on the right celebrating on Monday morning. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

“The mandate to us is to do what citizens are looking for. We should lead a good government that sets the course of the 2020s, so we manage to create more respect in our society, modernise industry in our country and to start to slow down manmade climate change – these are three huge challenges. 

“Now what is called for is pragmatism and leadership – that is what citizens expect us to do. I’m very grateful and I’m touched by the great support. What citizens gave us as their mandate will be implemented by us.”

8:30am – Uncertain period ahead

People in Germany are waking up after a nailbiting election – but things are still pretty much clear as mud. What we do know is that the Social Democrats (SPD) narrowly won the vote. Preliminary official results showed that the centre-left party snagged 25.7 percent, while Merkel’s centre-right CDU-CSU bloc sunk to a historic low of 24.1 percent.

READ MORE: Germany’s Social Democrats win election but uncertainty beckons

8:15am – Election reaction live! 

Hi all, thanks for joining today’s live blog. We’ll bring you all the reaction and analysis throughout the day after the election. 

One important point though, remember to refresh this page automatically for updates and email us any questions or views you have to news@thelocal.de 

You can also follow us on Twitter here @TheLocalGermany and check out @RachLoxton and @imogen_goodman


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