German general elections 2021- Social Democrats emerged single largest party with 206 seats

Angela Merkel's Conservative CDU/CSU wins 196 seats-a worst result for the party since 1950s

SPD narrowly  ahead - CDU/CSU lost ground

Social Democrats has won the German general elections with a narrow margin of just 10 seats. Social Democrats has won 206 seats while Conservative CDU/CSU won 196 seats in the house of 736. The Social democrats have gained 53 seats while CDU/CSU lost 50 seats. The Greens have won 118 seats, their best ever election performance. 

The Federal Returning Officer website showing that the SPD won 25.7% of the vote, followed by the CDU/CSU bloc who garnered 24.1%, and the Green Party with 14.8% of votes, after a count of all 299 of Germany's "constituencies" or electoral districts.

The center-left parties were the biggest winners of the election. The SPD gained 5.8% compared to their result in the last federal election in 2017, while the Greens were up over 6%. The left Party suffered loses and lost nearly 6% votes and 30 seats in this election.

The conservative bloc suffered heavy losses as the Angela Merkel era comes to an end. They were down by almost 9% on the previous election and have their worst result since 1949. 

Final results of German general elections 2021

Party             Leader                        Seats               Votes share          Total votes

SPD              Olaf Scholz                  206                     25.7%                    11.94 million   (11,949,756)

CDU/CSU    Armin Laschat            196                     24.1%                    11.17 million   (11,173,806)

Greens        Annalena Baerbock     118                      14.8%                    6.84 million      (6,848,215)

FDP              Christian Lindner        92                      11.5%                     5.31 million     (5,316,698)

AFD              Alice Weidel                 83                       10.3%                    4.80 million     (4,802,097)

Die Linke     Janine Wesler              39                        4.9%                       2.26 million    (2,269,993) 

The SPD will now begin negotiations to form the new government, a process that could take weeks -- or even months. After Merkel's election win in September 2017, it took more than five months for a government to be formed.

Though the preliminary count gives the SPD a small lead over its closest rivals, the results mark a significant improvement for the party that took 20.5% of the vote in the last election in 2017.The basic fact is "after 16 years in power, almost 76% of Germans have not voted" for Merkel's party. 

 The 63-year-old Social Democrat leader Olaf Scholz has served as the vice-chancellor and German finance minister in Merkel's grand coalition government since 2018, earning him increased visibility as he navigated Germany's economic response to the pandemic.

Greens made big gains

The real winner of the election night was Green Party. Greens made gains of 51 seats. In last elections in 2017, it won 67 seats.The Greens' leader Annalena Baerbock thanked the party workers and said that  "we have led a campaign as we have never before experienced in this country -- around the clock, until last night, the last second." 

The Greens success was the result of making the environmental concerns and economic worries of the voters as the central points of their campaign.It is clear that the momentum is moving more towards issues that concern social welfare, green politics for the young voters. The deadly floods in summer increased the concerns of the people about the climate change.

It was one of the worst flooding in the history of Germany. Greens addressed this concern and workers concern about their low wages. Although, Greens are not satisfied with their performance as they were expecting more seats in the elections. Greens were leading the polls six months before the elections. But Social Democrats and CDU/CSU covered some ground few months before the elections. 

 Baerbock credited her party's success to young and new voters. "This momentum from the market places, from so many people who joined our party in the last years, has led to this historical best result," she said. 

The CDU's share of the vote is lowest since 1950s. The out going conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel led the CDU/CSU for four consecutive wins. The Angela Merkel is calling it a day after serving for 16 years as Chancellor. The new CDU leader Armin Laschat  failed to impress the conservative voters the way Merkel was able to do for 16 years. 

Who will form the next government?

The Greens  and Free Democrats FPD have become king makers after the close election. They can form coalition with any of two big parties. The only way to keep both Greens and FPD out of the coalition  government is to form a grand coalition of SPD and CDU/CSU.  Otherwise, both Greens and FPD come into play in the formation of the next government.   

Both left leaning Social Democrats  and Conservative CDU/CSU could still form a coalition government. Even both parties can form a grand coalition as was the case after the 2017 elections. 369 seats are required to form a majority government. No party has this majority to form its own government. It means that both the largest parties will talk with other parties to form a coalition. 

There are three possible scenarios for the formation of coalition government.

1-  SPD can form coalition with Greens and FPD (416 seats)

2- SPD can form grand coalition with CDU/CSU (402 seats)

3- The Conservative CDU/CSU can also form coalition with Greens and FPD (410 seats)  

4- The other option might be to form a minority coalition of SPD, Greens and Left Party (363 seats). 

5- Another option for CDU/CSU is to form coalition with FPD and AFD (397 seats). But this coalition is unlikely because of AFD's  anti immigration, anti EU and  anti Muslim stance. 

So it is most likely that four parties will engage in intense debates and discussions to form the next coalition government. 

How long will it take to form next government?

It might takes weeks or even months to complete the negotiations between different parties. The SPD will now begin negotiations to form the new government, a process that could take weeks -- or even months. After Merkel's election win in September 2017, it took more than five months for a government to be formed.  

But there will be no vacuum as the outgoing government remains in office as acting government until it is replaced by a new government. Merkel, 67, will then stand down and the new chancellor will take the reins.

If it is the SPD that leads the way, the only path forward is going to be speaking to three parties that most likely will involve the Greens and the FDP. And that's quite a tall order trying to just bring all of those together. 

So it might takes months before the next government could be formed. 

                                                          Khalid Bhatti  

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