BERLIN: The party that narrowly beat outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bloc pushed on Monday for a quick agreement on a coalition government, but Europe’s biggest economy could still be in for weeks of uncertainty after an election that failed to set a clear direction. Olaf Scholz, the candidate of the center-left Social Democrats, called for Merkel’s center-right Union bloc to go into opposition after it saw its worst-ever poll result. Both finished with well under 30% of vote, and that appeared to put the keys to power in the hands of two opposition parties.
The SPD, Germany’s oldest party, won 25.7% of the vote, up five percentage points from the 2017 federal election, ahead of Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative bloc on 24.1%, provisional results showed. The kingmakers, the Greens came in with 14.8% and the FDP won 11.5%. It will likely take at least three parties to form a government and both the Social Democrats and the CDU/CSU were planning to hold talks to do so. Scholz said he hoped to agree a coalition before Christmas, “if possible”. However, his conservative rival Armin Laschet, 60, said he could still try to form a government despite leading CDU/CSU bloc to their worst ever national election result.
Scholz dispelled concerns that lengthy haggling and a new, multiparty government would mean unstable leadership. “Germany always has coalition governments, and it was always stable,” he said. If Scholz succeeds in forming a coalition, the former mayor of Hamburg would become only the fourth post-WWII SPD chancellor and the first since Merkel took over in 2005. Merkel’s outgoing government will remain in office until a successor is sworn in, a process that can take weeks or even months