A tired looking Olaf Scholz took to the stage Monday morning at his Social Democratic headquarters, making clear that he saw his party’s significant gains in the election as a mandate from voters to head up the next government with the two smaller parties that also made gains in Sunday’s vote.
“Voters have clearly spoken,” he said. “They have said who should build the next government by strengthening three parties, the Social Democratic Party, the Greens and the Free Democrats. Consequently, that is the clear mandate that voters of this country have given, that these three parties should create the next government.”
The Social Democrats made significant gains, earning 25.7 percent of the vote, but will still need at least one other partner to form a government. Both the Greens and the Free Democrats also increased their share of seats in Parliament, to 14.8 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively.
But with German voters spreading their support across an wide spectrum of parties, the outcome remained anything but certain, with Christian Democrats still trying to claim they can lead the coalition to form the next government, despite suffering a consequential loss of nearly nine points, to earn only 24.1 percent of the vote.
Mr. Scholz said that result made it “clear” that voters wanted to see the Christian Democrats and their Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Democrats, in the opposition after 16 years in power, under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel. She did not run for election, and the seat that she had held in Parliament since 1990 was won by a Social Democrat.
“The mandate for us is to do what the people want,” Mr. Scholz said, adding that was “to lead a good government that will set the course for the decade ahead, to bring more respect into society, to modernize our industrial sector and to halt the man-made climate change.”