Correspondent in Berlin
The end of the campaign and the closing of the polls only meant the beginning of the negotiations. The narrow advantage (less than two points) that he obtained this Sunday the social democrat Olaf Scholz (25.9%) over the CDU / CSU (24.5%) of Armin Laschet he opens the door to various constellations and, despite having been the most voted candidate, it was a bitter victory for him. With just the exit polls on the table, without yet a vote count that would allow a consistent result, Laschet appeared at the Konrad Adenauer House, where the mood was down for the loss of approximately 9% of votes, and animated the party. German political etiquette requires that the second most voted candidate congratulate the winner as soon as possible and that tradition has never been broken in the CDU, but Laschet surprised by avoiding that reference to the winner and announcing that, faced with the virtual tie, he would not give up forming a government. To everyone’s surprise, Angela Merkel took him on stage with him. He was not scheduled to attend the counting of the votes at party headquarters, and his presence no doubt reinforced Laschet’s determination to remain in the race for Chancery. “The voters have given us a clear mandate to avoid a left-wing government,” argued Laschet, “it will necessarily be a tripartite and we are going to focus our efforts on maintaining the stability of Germany.”
His words were ratified a few minutes later by the president of Bavaria and leader of the conservative Bavarian sister CSU, Markus Söder. “It’s exciting and everything is open,” he said, “this result is a head to head and there are opportunities for CDU / CSU, everything is still possible.” Markus attributed the comeback at the end of the campaign to “the unity shown by the party in its last electoral acts and the closed option to avoid as it is a red-red-green government.” “A citizen center government is still possible and we must try,” he said after speaking briefly with Laschet on the phone. comfort zone and give up party politics to agree to a federal apolitical policy. “We are ready to negotiate,” he insisted, taking for granted the period of negotiations in which Greens and liberals would also have to participate. The first liberal nod of acquiescence was expressed candidate Christian Lindner: «We have one of the best results in the history of our party and the joint result says that the germans want a center government».
Olaf Scholz, for his part, he described the result as a “great success” because “the voters have thrown us upwards and that must be celebrated.” “I see a government mandate,” he interpreted, “the voters want a change and for the next chancellor of the Republic to be named Olaf Scholz.” “We will wait for the end of the vote count and then we will get to work,” he said, escorted by party co-chairs Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken. “Olaf, you have the confidence of the people,” Esken emphasized with an air of triumph, but in Scholz’s face and in his restrained joy there was concern about the complexity of the situation and the negotiations in the making, for which he offered the first clues of his strategy: «pragmatism, proactivity and determination». Already after leaving the stage and in statements to the television network N-Tv, Scholz reiterated that Germany will in any case continue to be a country faithful to its commitments with NATO, thus signaling the first red line of negotiation with The Greens, which they still gave no clues about their preference.
Three possible coalitions
Arithmetically, and waiting for the last vote to be counted, three different coalitions would be possible: one ‘semaphore coalition’ of Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals with 428 deputies; a ‘Jamaica coalition’ of conservatives, greens and liberals with 419 deputies; and another ‘grand coalition’, this time chaired by Scholz, with 413 deputies and to which Laschet also left the door open in his statements. “It has been 16 years of Merkel governments that have contributed a lot to Germany, 16 good years for which we have to thank Angela,” he said, interrupted at that point by a very long applause from the audience, “this open result now places us in front of to a new challenge to all ».
One of the main keys to solving this scenario is the green candidate, Annalena Baerbock, which however did not give a miserable verbal clue. “This is our best ever result,” he said, admitting, however, that the party had not achieved its electoral goal. We wanted more. We did not achieve it, partly due to our own mistakes at the beginning of the campaign, “he acknowledged, but he recovered his combative tone to remember that” this country needs a climate government and now we will continue to fight for this. Green co-leader Robert Habeck, whose background in the electoral campaign has ended up having a high cost, left open whether his party could form a coalition with the SPD or the CDU / CSU. “We want to rule,” he simply put Habeck first. “There is proximity to the SPD,” he admitted, “but a government under the leadership of the Union is also possible. The important thing is that a government finds the correct answers to the questions of the moment.
On the side of the losers in these elections, marked by Merkel’s goodbye and by the pandemic, last night were the minority parties of the extremes, the extreme left of Die Linke, who with his 5% it goes back more than 4% until it sees its parliamentary presence in jeopardy, and the far right of the AfD, which gives up more than two percentage points but it consolidates its parliamentary group with 10% of the votes and a much more crystallized presence in the eastern Bundesländer. In the long night of counting the votes that the closing of this edition also left ahead the question about the role that the acting chancellor will play, Angela Merkel, during the predictably long and difficult negotiations. His intention to definitively go to the background may again be truncated.
The most widely read book this summer in Germany, a humorous novel by David Safier, places her in her cottage in Brandenburg, where she actually grows potatoes in the nearby garden on weekends, and is dedicated to investigating crimes in the town. . But the virtual tie and Laschet’s decision not to surrender will surely force Merkel to keep your authority and your left hand active in negotiations for, as Laschet said next to him, he hardly knew the first results, “to be faithful to the main objective of our party: the stability and unity of Germany.”