The latest developments

The Germans will elect a new parliament on Sunday. Regardless of the result, a political turning point is imminent, as Chancellor Angela Merkel will no longer run.

The latest developments

Rund 60 Millionen Wahlberechtigte sind am Sonntag zur Wahl aufgerufen.

Around 60 million eligible voters are called to vote on Sunday.

Kay Nietfeld / dpa

    • The eagerly awaited Bundestag election has begun. A good 60 million eligible voters are called upon to decide on the political balance of power in Europe’s largest economy for the next four years. The parliamentary election marked the end of the era of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), who is no longer running after almost 16 years in office. The Federal Chancellor is not elected directly in Germany, but by the new parliament. The person of the top candidate plays a major role in the decision for a party. With the first forecasts of the TV channels ARD and ZDF on the outcome of the election, the polling stations are expected to close at 6:00 p.m. The preliminary official final result is expected after midnight. Follow the developments on election day in our live ticker.
    • FDP boss Christian Lindner wants to stay tough in coalition negotiations with the SPD and the Greens. Just as the FDP broke off talks on a Jamaica coalition with the Union and the Greens in 2017 because Germany would have been sent “on a green-black drift to the left with marginal FDP participation”, so this time too one would stand firm be. “We are not ready to send our country on a left drift in 2021 either,” said Lindner at a rally in Düsseldorf. They want “a government in the middle” in which there will be no tax increases and no relaxation of the debt brake.
    • SPD Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz has confirmed his wish for a coalition with the Greens. “This is my favorite coalition,” said Scholz at his last meeting before the general election in his constituency in Potsdam. He appealed to the voters to use their votes to ensure that the SPD achieves a strong result. When asked to do so, he assured the government that he would fill the government with ministers who are also good at it. “Half men and half women,” he said. In Potsdam, the Green Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock is also running as a direct candidate. She did not want to worry about coalitions on Saturday.
    • Chancellor Angela Merkel once again urged Armin Laschet advertised. “Tomorrow it’s about Germany remaining stable,” said Merkel on Saturday a rally with the Union’s candidate for chancellor in his hometown of Aachen. “It doesn’t matter who rules Germany.” As Prime Minister, Laschet not only led North Rhine-Westphalia successfully. He also did a lot for the unification of Europe. His actions are characterized by “building bridges” and taking people with him. Laschet has shown in his entire political life that he stands for solidarity and the CDU, not only theoretically, “but with passion and heart”.
    • Shortly before the federal election, the Union and the SPD are in a head-to-head race. In the new ZDF “Politbarometer”, the SPD’s lead over the Union is slightly reduced. In the poll of the Elections Research Group published on Thursday evening (23 September), the CDU / CSU would come to 23 percent – 1 percentage point more than the previous week. The SPD remains unchanged at 25 percent. The Greens would therefore come to 16.5 percent (plus 0.5). In the survey, the AfD is currently 10 percent (minus 1), the FDP 11, the Left 6 percent (both unchanged). According to the research group Wahlen, 35 percent of those questioned are not yet sure whether they want to vote and, if so, who. In an Allensbach poll published on Friday (September 24th), the SPD had 26 percent and the Union 25 percent approval.
    • The majority of German companies would reduce their investments if the wealth tax or property levy were reintroduced. That is the result of a representative survey by the Ifo Institute on behalf of the Family Business Foundation, which is available to the Funke media group. 48.8 percent of the companies stated that they would like to reduce their investments in the event of a new levy. Another 10.4 percent would even stop investing completely. Only 2.4 percent of the companies would increase their investments.

    How Germany would vote now

    A continuously updated NZZ analysis of the latest data from all major polling institutes.

    When will you dial?

    The general election will take place on Sunday, September 26th. On the same day, new state parliaments are elected in the eastern German states of Berlin and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In order to participate in the federal election, the parties had to identify their direct candidates and submit their state lists by mid-July. In addition to the parties represented in the Bundestag, around two dozen other parties will run for the Bundestag election.

    Why is the choice special?

    After 16 years in office, Chancellor Angela Merkel will no longer be compete. It is the first federal election since 1949 in which the incumbent does not stand for re-election. Apart from Merkel, only Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl was in office for so long. He ruled from 1982 to 1998.

    Which coalitions would be possible?

    At the moment an alliance of the Greens, SPD and FDP would be possible, or a coalition of Union, Greens and FDP. A left alliance of the Greens, the SPD and the Left Party would also be possible at the moment. A so-called Germany coalition of the Union, SPD and FDP would also be feasible. A majority for the Union and SPD would currently be given again without the FDP – but the new edition of the black-red coalition is considered unlikely.

    Possible coalitions

    Estimated number of seats in the Bundestag according to the latest surveys

    CDU / CSU and Greens together come to 283 MPs (40%).

    CDU / CSU and FDP come together to 255 MPs (36%).

    CDU / CSU , Greens and FDP (“Jamaica”) have a total of 374 MPs (53%).

    SPD and CDU / CSU («GroKo» ) come together to 362 MPs (51%).

    SPD , CDU / CSU and FDP (“Germany Coalition”) have 453 MPs (64%).

    SPD , CDU / CSU and Greens («Kenya») together have 481 MPs (68%).

    SPD , FDP and Green (“traffic lights”) come together for 408 MPs (58%).

    SPD , Left and Greens («R2G») together have 367 MPs (52%).

    Mathematically possible, but politically unrealistic would be a merger of the CDU , FDP and AfD as well as a rainbow coalition from the left to the FDP. However, the federal CDU and the FDP have categorically excluded alliances with the far right or left.

    Mathematically possible but unlikely coalitions

    Estimated number of seats in the Bundestag according to the latest surveys

    CDU / CSU , AfD and FDP come together to 341 MPs (48%).

    Left , Green , SPD and FDP together have 456 MPs (64%).

    For the coalition options, the NZZ converts the percentage of votes from the polls to parliamentary seats. The number of seats depends on the size of the current Bundestag (709). The future Bundestag is likely to be bigger again after the election in September – despite electoral reform.

    How affects the pandemic on d the choice?

    The election campaign on the Internet will gain in importance again. The number of postal voters has been increasing for years, and the office of the Federal Returning Officer expects more postal voters than in the previous federal election in 2017, especially because of the pandemic. At that time, 30 percent of those eligible to vote voted by post.

    Which top candidates do the parties send into the race?

    CDU / CSU

    Armin Laschet

    Armin Laschet

    After a ten-day, sometimes brutal power struggle in mid-April, the Union parties the CDU chairman Armin Laschet agreed as candidate for chancellor. He has been Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia since 2017 and has only been head of the Christian Democratic Union since January 2021. At the party congress he prevailed against Norbert Röttgen and Friedrich Merz after an election campaign lasting almost a year. Laschet was in Düsseldorf before his office as head of government opposition leader in the state parliament. He also has experience as an integration minister in his federal state and as a member of the Bundestag and EU member of the CDU. His opponent for the candidacy for chancellor, CSU boss Markus Söder, has officially promised his support for the election campaign.


    Olaf Scholz

    Olaf Scholz

    Earlier than all other parties, the SPD had the Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, 62, nominated as candidate for Chancellor. In contrast to the party chairmen Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans, he does not belong to the left wing of the SPD and is supposed to bring votes from the bourgeoisie to the Social Democrats. Scholz was Secretary General of the SPD and Federal Minister for Labor and Social Affairs. Before he was appointed finance minister in 2017, he was mayor of Hamburg. In 2019 he had applied for the SPD chairmanship, but could not prevail in a membership decision.


    Annalena Baerbock


    Christian Lindner

    Christian Lindner

    The Liberals have the party and parliamentary group chairman Christian Lindner, 42, to Top candidates elected. He led the party back to the Bundestag in 2017. There is currently no one in the FDP who would dispute him for the top position. Lindner moved into the Bundestag for the second time in 2017. Before that he was state and parliamentary group leader of the Liberals in North Rhine-Westphalia.


    Alice Weidel und Tino Chrupalla

    Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla

    The alternative for Germany has the co-chair her parliamentary group, Alice Weidel, 42 and the co-party leader Tino Chrupalla, 45, as a top duo Both stand for a radical opposition course and are considered heirs to Alexander Gauland, the honorary chairman of the AfD. The members of the party voted on the top candidate and voted with 71 percent for Weidel and Chrupalla.


    Janine Wissler und Dietmar Bartsch

    Janine Wissler and Dietmar Bartsch

    The party enters the race with the two top candidates Janine Wissler and Dietmar Bartsch. The 63-year-old co-chairman of the Bundestag faction is considered a pragmatist and has long been campaigning for the Left Party also assumes government responsibility at the federal level. The 39-year-old co-party leader Wissler is assigned to the radical wing. Although she is basically open to participation in the government, she refuses to move away from certain positions, for example when the Bundeswehr says no to foreign missions.

    How does the dialing procedure work?

    Each voter has two votes: The direct candidate of the constituency is elected with the first vote. This is where the majority principle comes into play: The candidate with the most votes moves into the Bundestag, while the votes for the defeated candidates in the constituency are forfeited. Therefore the second vote is the more important one. With it the state lists of the parties are elected. The more votes a party receives, the more candidates it can send from its list to the Bundestag. However, only if she skips the five percent hurdle. If a party wins more direct mandates than it is entitled to seats in the Bundestag through the second votes, it is allowed to keep these as so-called overhang mandates. However, they are compensated for by compensatory mandates for the other parties so that the distribution of seats in the Bundestag corresponds to the second vote result. After the electoral reform passed last year, there is only a compensation mandate from the third overhang mandate.

    Allocation of seats in the Bundestag

    709 seats

    Alliance 90 / The Greens



    How did the third TV debate go the chancellor candidate?

    The third TV triall also won according to the Blitz poll after the show Olaf Scholz with 42 percent. Well behind him were Armin Laschet (27 percent) and Annalena Baerbock (25 percent). This time the topics were deepened more deeply than in the previous triallas. So people talked for a long time about social justice and Hartz IV, and climate change was also discussed in detail. This time Laschet tried to score more points with the topic of internal security, but, in the opinion of many observers, made a poor performance. Baerbock and Scholz, the sic h favoring each other as coalition partners showed agreement on some issues. Foreign policy was hardly discussed again.

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