Exit polls show close race to succeed Angela Merkel: NPR


People line up outside a polling station in the Moabit district of Berlin, Germany. German voters choose a new parliament in an election that will determine who will succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel after 16 years as head of Europe’s largest economy.

Michael Probst / AP


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Michael Probst / AP


People line up outside a polling station in the Moabit district of Berlin, Germany. German voters choose a new parliament in an election that will determine who will succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel after 16 years as head of Europe’s largest economy.

Michael Probst / AP

The first exit polls in Germany show an extremely close race between the center-left Social Democratic Party and the center-right Christian Democratic Union, in an election which will decide the country’s next chancellor after 16 years in office of Angela Merkel.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and her partner, the Christian Social Union, have 25% of the vote, which puts them on a par with the Social Democratic Party. The Greens follow with 15%.

Further figures updates are expected as the count continues in Germany on Sunday.

Polling stations opened at 8 a.m. local time and closed at 6 p.m. There could be more delays than usual in the counting of the ballots this year due to the pandemic and the number of voters who participated in the postal ballot, analysts said.

The last poll before election day showed that the Social Democratic Party was just ahead of the Christian Democratic Union / Christian Social Union partnership. The Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany party followed, as did the more libertarian Free Democratic Party.

Among the most popular parties, the main candidates for Merkel’s succession are Olaf Scholz from the Social Democrats, Armin Laschet from the Christian Democrats and Annalena Baerbock from the Greens.

Economic issues and concerns about how to deal with climate change are among the top concerns of voters in this election. It’s a close race so far, which still has voters torn over how to vote, even on election day.

“I’m very torn. I love Scholz because of his initiative on taxes for the international minimum tax level, but I don’t know how strong they will be on the climate,” the new voter told NPR. Vessela Hristova.

Scholz is currently German Minister of Finance and Vice-Chancellor.

Even with the uncertainty surrounding this year’s election, some voters in Berlin – a city more liberal than Merkel’s conservative policies – say they won’t miss Merkel in power.

“Maybe when we see what the outcome of this election will be, maybe she will be missed! I don’t know. She is not my chancellor,” Katja Lucke told NPR.

In the German electoral system, parties may have to form coalitions to determine a majority. And in this year’s election, that could lead to the formation of three coalition parties, a rarity in German politics.

Rob Scmitz contributed reporting from Berlin.

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