Germany Elections |

Germany Elections

Angela Merkel won a landslide personal victory in Germany's general election on Sunday.

  • How will German elections today affect Europe and the Euro crisis?
  • SPD headquarter is still empty waiting for the VIP's and journalists.

  • German Chancellor and leader of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel is surrounded by media as she casts her vote in the German general election (Bundestagswahl) at a polling station in Berlin, September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

  • Three-and-a-half hours and counting until the first exit polls. The big question is not whether Merkel's conservatives come out on top -- that seems like a sure thing -- but how her FDP allies do and whether the anti-euro AfD wins seats in parliament.
  • There are lines outside many of the polling stations in Berlin and the midday radio broadcasts spoke of a "rege Beteiligung" (high turnout). Four years ago the voter turnout was "only" 70 percent, something that alarmed many Germans. Despite worries of another decline in turnout, the turnout today could well be above the 70 percent in 2009.
  • Needless to say, a high turnout would be seen to favour Merkel's left-leaning rivals, the Social Democrats, who have had trouble convincing their tradtional supporters to vote since ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's controversial shake-up of the German welfare state a decade ago
  • The really unusual thing about this year's election is how uncertain and nervous the pollsters have been lately about this outcome. In past elections, you got the feeling they were pretty confident about their forecasts and German voters were once extremely reliable and predictable - their parents and grandparents had probably voted for the same party as they planned to vote for. That's changed. Especially with the smaller parties like the new eurosceptic, anti-foreign AfD party. The pollsters got notably cold feet in the last few weeks about making forecasts about whether the AfD would clear the 5 percent hurdle, fearing that many would-be AfD voters weren't telling them the truth during the interviews with the pollsters. Many of the pollsters also broke with tradition and put out their latest polls in the last 2 or 3 days before the vote - in the past there weren't usually any polls published in the final 4 or 5 days. And all those last-minute shifts made the polls like very dated and the pollsters not very reliable. Merkel's conservatives fell 7 points in 2005 from the final polls to the Sunday result.
  • Here's a recent story about "Merkel's fears that the pollsters may get it wrong again":
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel votes

  • At the CDU headquarter in Bwrlin more guest arriving, the place is already full of journalists, photographers an TV crews. A big CDU logo at the entrance it is a perfect spot for a happy snap!

  • Germany voting...

  • A woman leaves a ballot box to cast her vote in the German general election (Bundestagswahl) at a polling station in Berlin, September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

  • CDU is already crowded, not much space left for Angela Merkel team as TV and photographers took the best positions. Majority of guests have to watch her speech from a special tent build just outside the main building.

  • "There are more similarities now between the two main parties, the CDU/CSU and SPD than ever before," Everhard Holtmann, a political scientist from Halle, said in ARD TV just now. Germany's number one network just pointed out that about 31 percent of the voters in Germany did not make up their mind until the last few days compared to about 33 percent who made up their minds in the last week before the 2009 election.
  • Catering looks fantastic! A lot of food an drinks around here in CDU.

  • The AfD is the 'wild card' of this election, as Reuters colleagues in Berlin have been writing. Here's an interview Noah Barkin and Hans-Edzard Busemann had with the leader of the Afd, Bernd Lucke, an economics professor who wants an "orderly dismantling" of the euro zone and a return to national currencies:
  • Social Democratic Party (SPD) supporters wait for exit polls in the German general election (Bundestagswahl) at the party headquarters in Berlin September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

  • Reuters in Berlin reports: "Anti-euro AfD party just shy of 5 percent threshold needed to enter parliament - TV Exit Polls". It's going to be a cliff-hanger for the AfD and the FDP.. Both are right now below the 5 percent threshold and would thus not have any seats in parliament. But these numbers sometimes change a bit in the course of the evening. A 4.9 percent at 6 p.m. could turn into a 5.0 or a 5.1 (or a 4.8 or a 4.7) within the next 2 or 3 hours...
  • It was a bitter result for the SPD but their supporters cheered outside the SPD headquarters when the results showed the FDP below 5 percent. Across town at the CDU headquarters, the supporters cheered the CDU/CSU results but went silent when the FDP results were posted. They cheered, nevertheless, when the Greens came in far below expectations at just 8 percent. The Greens were on 14 percent in polls just six weeks ago...and even higher at 23 percent in 2011.
  • Angela Merkel's conservatives Sunday, putting her on track for a third term, would be able to preserve her centre-right coalition or be forced to work with her leftist rivals, an exit poll showed. adcaster ARD showed Chancellor Merkel's conservative bloc - ian Democratic Union (CDU) and Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) -- on 42 percent, their strongest score since 1990.

    But the exit polls did not give a clear indication of whether her Free Democrat (FDP) allies, on 4.7 percent, would make it back into parliament. A new eurosceptic party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), was hovering at 4.9 percent -- a whisper below the 5 percent threshold for winning seats.

    Support for the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) stood at 26 percent, the environmentalist Greens were on 8 percent and the hardline Left party was at 8.5 percent.

    If the FDP fails to get into the Bundestag, then Merkel will almost certainly have to enter coalition talks with the SPD, with whom she ruled between 2005 and 2009. Negotiations could last months and a new government could adopt more leftist policies like a minimum wage and tax hikes for top earners.
    by Annika.Breidthardt edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 9/22/2013 4:10:50 PM
  • Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party members react after first exit polls in the German general election (Bundestagswahl) at the CDU party headquarters in Berlin September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

  • Sarah Marsh reports: Supporters at the CDU event cheered wildly and hugged
    each other when they heard the results, chanting "Angie".
    They also
    cheered when they heard the bad result for the Greens, and that the AfD does
    not appear to be in the Bundestag.
    One supporter could not stop shaking her
    head, muttering "crazy", "crazy", "it's just

  • An unidentified Alternative fuer Deutschland party (AfD) member and parliament candidate Beartix Von Storch react after first exit polls in the German general election (Bundestagswahl) in Berlin September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

    by Danielle Wiener-Bronner edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 9/22/2013 4:16:14 PM
  • ZDF public TV station sees CDU at 301 seats of the Bundestag's 606, just short of the absolute majority of seats. According to projections at 1814 CET, the anti-euro AfD and free-market FDP would both fail to make it into parliament.
  • Volker Kauder, Merkel's parliamentary floor leader, says in German ARD TV: "We're delighted by this result. We've got a clear mandate from the voters to form the government. The results show that the voters clearly want Merkel to remain chancellor."
  • Sarah Marsh reports: "It's crazy, just crazy", said Beate Ernst, 60, a CDU supporter, shaking her head in bemusement  "The mere possibility the CDU could govern alone is so unbelievable, no one even considered this," said Ernst celebrating at the party's headquarters with a glass of white wine. "I will definitely be celebrating tonight. "The CDU supporters cheered wildly, hugging each other and screaming when they heard the news. "Angie, angie" they chanted. Others toasted with German sekt or beer. (She runs a citizen initiative to clean up the city streets)

    by erik.kirschbaum edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 9/22/2013 4:21:26 PM
  • Reuters correspondent Alexandra Hudson at the AfD headquarters reports: Supporters had been in elated, confident mood before the results were announced, and cheered vigorously when they saw the FDP was short of 5 pct, but then real shock when they saw themselves only at 4.9 pct … left open mouths their glasses in the air,   … real sense of deflation... AfD party member in Berlin Martin Krisp: 

    “This is still a very good result and I think there is room for it to hit  the 5 pct. Not everyone admits to voting for us in exit polls, there is still an elemett of shame attached to it, because some think we belong to the far-right spectrum. We will show very clearly in the next months and years that this is absolutely not the case…There has been a huge upwards momentum sicne February”
    by erik.kirschbaum edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 9/22/2013 4:23:04 PM
  • As the first exit poll on ZDF came in showing Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) was at 33.5 the crowds at the Social Democrat (SPD) headquarters cheered loudly and clapped - until they saw the CDU's Bavarian allies, the CSU, were at 8.5 percent. Then they quietened down and a few swore. And when the SPD results were shown on screen, a few male supporters joked they would need a lot of alcohol to get them through the night. Their mood picked up when they saw the results of Merkel's Free Democrat (FDP) allies, which were below the 5-percent threshold needed to enter parliament, according to the poll. "Who are the FDP anyway?" one joked. But there was a sense of disappointment when the results had all been read out and something close to silence descended upon the room for a moment.
  • ARD TV put out this first projection, a mixture of exit polls and first preliminary results from some polling stations: 42 percent cdu, 26 percent spd,4.7 pct fdp,8.3 pct Left, 8.1 pct Greens, 4.9 pct AfD

  • Social Democrat (SPD) supporters are now split over how their party should proceed, with some saying they should push for a coalition between with the left-leaning Greens and far-left Linke party. "Theoretically we have a left majority now and that sends a clear signal. I think the SPD should take this opportunity," said Markus Fuss, a 45-year-old secretary at a trade union. Angela Hesse, 58, said she had hoped the Social Democrats would do better and said her party should enter a 'grand coalition' with Angela Merkel's conservatives: "I'd prefer a grand coalition as you have to think about the country as a whole and I think those (the CDU and SPD) are the partners who can do best together."
  • Social Democratic Party (SPD) react to exit polls in the German general election (Bundestagswahl) at the party headquarters in Berlin September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

  • Reuters correspondent Alexandra Hudson at AfD headquarters reports: "Lucke greeted with big applause here… We have achieved a very strong result. We can say that much already. We have given the other parties reason to be frightened…. We have made democracy in Germany richer, we have strengthened it .. that within a few months a new party can be come from the middle of society.. that is something to be hugely proud of. “4.9 percent is about 2.million votes. That is a huge success for a party that has only been around for a couple of months”

    Reuters correspondent Sarah Marsh at CDU headquarters reports: "Its as if you wished yourself a wooden train set for Christmas and end up getting an electric one," said one supporter named Karl, a 64 year old pharmacist who has been a CDU member for 20 years, holding a glass of red wine.  "I hadn't expected such an incredible result but think now the CDU should give it a stab at governing alone."
    by erik.kirschbaum edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 9/22/2013 4:33:27 PM
  • Some Social Democrat (SPD) supporters say they are pleased with their party's gains, with 45-year-old bank employee Ralf Thies saying: "We got around one million votes more than in the last election and that's good. But it won't help us." He said the SPD's chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrueck, who has come in for a lot of criticism for gaffes in his campaign, had not managed to gain enough momentum towards the end of the campaign and contrasted him to predecessor Gerhard Schroeder, who he described as an "election campaign machine".
  • Merkel calls victory a "super result" and thanks her party, the voters and her husband, who makes a rare appearance on the sidelines of the CDU's stage. But she says it's too early to discuss coalition options until the final results are in.

    Sarah Marsh reports from CDU headquarters: Merkel's husband is smiling from the corner of the room where he looks on at his wife on stage, and appears surprised and shy when she thanks him for his support and the TV cameras turn to him.
    by erik.kirschbaum edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 9/22/2013 4:53:03 PM
  • Merkel's conservatives on track for absolute majority in Parliament after German election: voting projection (Reuters wire)
  • Here is what Merkel told her frenzied supporters: "Dear friends, your cheers show that we've all got something to celebrate about. That's a super result. First of all, I'd like to thank the voters who put such overwhelming faith in our conservative parties. And I'd like to promise the voters that we will act responsibly and with great care. Thank you very much."
  • Reuters' Stephen Brown and Noah Barkin writeAngela Merkel was on track to win a third term as chancellor in a German election on Sunday after her conservatives scored their best result in decades, but it was unclear whether she could avoid being forced into a coalition with her leftist rivals. 
    by erik.kirschbaum edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 9/22/2013 5:17:51 PM
  • According to current projections, Merkel's conservatives have an absolute majority of seats in Bundestag for first time since 1957. However, anti-euro party AfD is just shy of the 5 percent threshold needed to enter parliament and could decide the outcome of the vote.
    by Annika.Breidthardt edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 9/22/2013 5:25:50 PM
  • Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble calls it a "fantastic result" but says he hopes the FDP gets into parliament so that the centre-right will have a stabile majority. "It's a fantastic result, a great confirmation for Angela Merkel. Actually I hope the FDP gets in. Then we'll have stability." Schaeuble said it was "a little bit too early" to start talking about what coalition or what party or parties would be invited to talks for the next government  - quite possibly because Merkel might have enough seats for an absolute majority without a coalition partner. He also says Europe doesn't need to worry about Germany. "We'll continue to carry on responsibly with our role."
  • Sophie Duvernoy listened to AfD leader Bernd Lucke give an interview to ARD TV:Obviously voters who gave the FDP the strong result of 15 percent in 2009 have moved away from the party, because the FDP has deeply disappointed many of its voters. They turned either to the CDU or the AfD, so it’s not as if we have changed the fundamental architecture of the German party system. But we have formulated an alternative for people who were disappointed not only by the FDP but by all the other parties as well. The voter breakdown has already shown that we have attracted people from all directions, and we hope that it will be enough to get in the Bundestag. If we can’t make it, we will focus on the upcoming European elections, which will be important elections for us because they take up the theme of the euro zone crisis... If we don’t make it today, we will go into that conflict with a strong momentum.

    by erik.kirschbaum edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 9/22/2013 5:58:07 PM
  • Social Democrat (SPD) headquarters have emptied out a lot. Mood is pretty downbeat. And there's a lot of concern about the possibility of another 'grand coalition' now that SPD chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrueck has again ruled out forming a coalition with the left-leaning Greens and far-left Linke parties. SPD supporter Corinna Schwetasch, 32, said she didn't want her party to enter another coalition with Angela Merkel's conservatives like in 2005-2009 because she thought her party would have little influence and could end up damaging itself. "The last grand coalition was bad for us because we didn't manage to show what the SPD stood for. The chancellor was able to exploit that and she's done it again with the Free Democrats (FDP) - it's not easy when you're the junior coalition partner and then you suffer big losses - that happened to us and I don't want to have that experience again," she said. Nikolaus Foss, 52, who works for a state ministry, echoed that sentiment: "In the last grand coalition the SPD was responsible for many of the successes but it was not rewarded."
  • German TV viewers were just treated to an hour of Merkel and the leaders of the other parties in parliament. Nothing sensational came out of it other than Merkel saying she would have to wait to see the final results before making any decisions on a coalition partner. Both the SPD and Greens leaders said they were not interested in a coalition with Merkel.  Merkel says, perhaps half jokingly, that perhaps there won't be a partner available.
  • The latest ARD TV projection shows that the CDU/CSU now falling a few seats short of an absolute majority, with 297 seats compared to 301 seats for the three left parties, the SPD, Greens and Left. But the SPD and Greens have said they won't do a coalition with the Left.
  • It is always difficult to explain to audiences outside Germany why the SPD, Greens and Left (the so-called 'red-red-green' government) is a taboo at the federal level in Germany. There have been such SPD-Left coalitions at the state level (Berlin, Mecklenburg vorpommern and brandenburg) in eastern Germany, where the Left is hugely popular and gets around 30 percent of the vote. Then in recent years there was a government even in west Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia, that relied on Left party votes to rule a minority government. But it's still seen as a taboo for the federal government...But for how much longer? That's the question being asked tonight.
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