Germany election: What happens now? The road ahead for Scholz

Brexit will have 'consequences' for the UK says Olaf Scholz

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The Social Democrats have effectively won the German election, likely making leader Olaf Scholz the most likely next Chancellor of a coalition Government in Europe’s largest economy. Angela Merkel will leave her post as Chancellor of Germany after 16 years in power.

But the road to power is not simple, despite Mr Scholz gaining the largest vote share in the country.

Sunday’s elections saw the SPD win 26 percent of the vote, according to preliminary numbers.

The centre-right Christian Democrat Union (CDU), the outgoing Ms Merkel’s party, won 24 percent of the vote, the lowest mark for the party since it was found in 1945.

The path ahead is likely to be unclear and lengthy, and could see Ms Merkel still in office as we head in to 2022.

READ MORE: Germany election winner Olaf Scholz blasted Brexit

What happens now for Germany?

Mr Scholz’s party was the junior coalition partner to the CDU, but have now found themselves on top, meaning they will choose who to form a Government with, as the vote is not decisive enough to put a single party in power.

Ms Merkel will stay in a caretaker role until a coalition is formed.

However, the close result suggests it could take time to determine who will next govern, with difficult coalition negotiations involving a number of parties to come.

Mr Scholz said he aimed to build a coalition with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP).

The Greens gained 14.8 percent of the vote and the FDP won 11.5 percent.

He said: “Voters have spoken very clearly.

“They strengthened three parties; the Social Democrats, the Greens, and the Free Democrats; so this is the visible mandate the citizens of this country have given: these three parties should lead the next government.”

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But his direct opposition Armin Laschet is determined to form a government despite the result.

Mr Laschet has insisted he still had the right to explore coalition options even though the SPD currently appear to be the winners.

He said: “It has not always been the case [in Germany] that the parties that were in first place provided the chancellor.”

But Mr Scholz hit back, saying he should lead coalition negotiations.

He said: “A lot of people put their cross by the SPD because they wanted a change of government and wanted the next chancellor of this country to be Olaf Scholz.”

The preliminary results heavily suggest Germany will be governed for the first time ever by a three-way coalition, led by the SPD.

All parties can now embark on what are known as “exploratory talks”.
In this initial phase, which has no time limit, there is nothing to stop the parties from all holding coalition talks in parallel, although tradition dictates that the biggest party will invite smaller ones for discussions.

It now effectively depends on whether the smaller parties decide to team up with the SPD or the CDU.

The country has two viable options for its next government.

These are a Scholz-led ‘traffic light’ alliance of the ‘red’ SPD with the Greens and the ‘yellow’ liberal FDP, and a so-called ‘Jamaica’ coalition of Laschet’s ‘black’ CDU-CSU with the Greens and the FDP.

If Mr Scholz succeeds in forming a coalition in the coming months, the former mayor of Hamburg would become the fourth post-war SPD chancellor.

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