After 16 years of signal leadership under Angela Merkel, Germany, Europe’s largest economy, went to the polls this Sunday, in a tight election between the Conservatives and centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).
Where the election fails to produce an outright winner, as analyst foresee, a window of coalition negotiations will open, leaving Merkel, 67, in charge in a caretaker role.
While campaigning alongside Merkel in his home constituency of Aachen on Saturday, Conservative candidate ArminLaschet said that a leftist alliance led by the SPD with the Greens and the hard-left Linke party would destabilize Europe.
“They want to pull us out of NATO, they don’t want this alliance, they want another republic,” said Laschet, who is 60. “I don’t want the Linke to be in the next government.”
Olaf Scholz, the finance minister in Merkel’s right-left coalition, is the SPD candidate running against Laschet, and is known to have won all three televised debates between the leading candidates.
Scholz, 63, has not ruled out a leftist alliance with The Left but said NATO membership was a red line for the SPD.
Final opinion polls gave the Social Democrats a narrow lead, but the conservatives have reduced the gap in recent days and many voters were still undecided. This means that a three-way coalition is likely.
The most likely coalition scenarios see either the SPD or the conservative CDU/CSU bloc – whoever comes first – forming an alliance with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP).
With confidence, Scholz assured supporters in his own constituency in Potsdam near Berlin that he was still hoping the SPD and Greens would secure a majority to rule alone without a third partner.
“The stronger the SPD, the easier it will be to form a coalition,” Scholz said. “I don’t know what will be possible but maybe it is possible for example to form an SPD-Greens coalition. I believe it is possible. We’ll see.”