Germany heads to polls, bringing an end to 16-year ‘Merkel era’

Berlin, Sep 26 (EFE).- Germany’s polling stations opened at 06:00 GMT Sunday for voting in the parliamentary elections, which will draw the curtains on the 16-year reign of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

More than 60 million eligible citizens were summoned to vote in the country, the European Union’s biggest economy, until booths close at 16:00 GMT.

The latest polls show a slight advantage of one or two points for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of vice chancellor and finance minister Olaf Scholz, against Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) candidate, Armin Laschet.

The elections begin with uncertainty around final result predictions, after a campaign marked by drastic changes in polling.

In March, the polls placed The Greens, led by Annalena Baerbock, in first position. From there the conservative bloc went on to climb positions, after the centrist Laschet was appointed as a candidate, while Scholz seemed condemned to third.

Between the end of August and the beginning of September, the situation changed to favor the SDP. Forecasts began to skyrocket Scholz to solid favorite, up to five points ahead of Laschet.

In the final stretch, the distances were narrowed, which together with the fragmentation of the vote suggests a future tripartite government, whoever leads it.

The average percentage given to the SPD is 25 percent, compared to 22 percent for the conservative bloc made up of the CDU and its sister Christian Social Union in Bavaria.

The Greens are ranked third with 16 percent, while the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) are forecast at 11 percent. The parties forecast above the 5 percent minimum needed to obtain seats is rounded off by The Left, with 6 percent.

The first exit polls will be broadcast by the two national public television networks, ARD and ZDF, immediately after the closing of the voting stations.

Shortly after, projections will be broadcast. The Electoral Commission has warned that final results may be delayed, given the high percentage of postal votes, which could reach an all-time high.

On Sunday, regional elections are also held in Berlin, as well as in the state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, both under SPD rule. EFE


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