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Scrum for chancellery as SPD takes lead

Major parties aim at a ruling majority by Christmas

27 September, 12:32
(ANSA-AFP) - BERLIN, SEP 27 - Germany's centre-left Social Democrats took a narrow lead on Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in Sunday's vote to decide her successor, partial results showed, sparking immediate claims from both sides to form the country's next government. The epochal election ushers in the end of 16 years in power for Merkel, and also thrusts Germany, a byword for stability, into a new period of political uncertainty. With the conservative CDU-CSU alliance and the SPD each seeking to form governing coalitions in a race for power, Germany was up for a rocky few months that could blunt it on the international stage for some time. Partial results published on public television showed Finance Minister Olaf Scholz's SPD with around 25.9 to 26.0 percent of the vote, followed closely behind by Merkel's Christian Democrats and their candidate Armin Laschet on about 24.1-24.5 percent. The SPD swiftly staked its claim with general secretary Lars Klingbeil saying his party "clearly has the mandate to govern". "It's going to be a long election night, that's for sure," Scholz said. But he said it was "certain" that many Germans "want there to be a change in government and also... want the next chancellor to be called Olaf Scholz". With the conservatives staring down the barrel of their worst result since World War II, CDU general secretary Paul Ziemiak admitted that the "losses are bitter compared to the last election" in 2017, when the CDU-CSU under Merkel notched up 33 percent. But Laschet, 60, warned that the jury was still out on which party will end up leading the country, as he vowed to "do everything we can to build a government led by the (conservative) Union". Scholz and Laschet both said they would aim to cobble together a ruling majority by Christmas.


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