Germany votes: Who will win Sunday's elections and replace Angela Merkel?

The end of the Merkel era
Who could succeed Merkel?
Armin Laschet: candidate of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU)
A more difficult election campaign than expected
Olaf Scholz: Vice Chancellor and candidate for Chancellor of the SPD
Surprising rise in the polls
Merkel's real heir?
Annalena Baerbock: candidate of the Greens
The first green chancellor?
Christian Lindner is running for the Free Democratic Party (FDP)
The German nationalists are weaker than in 2017
Die Linke (The Left) is far behind
Other parties
Governing in coalition
Many coalition options
A few more days of tension
The end of the Merkel era

The German Bundestag elections, September 26th, will mark the end of an era. After four terms in office and sixteen years as Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel (CDU) has chosen to leave office.

Who could succeed Merkel?

The Merkel era was characterized by overcoming several crises: the financial and euro crisis, the refugee crisis and, recently, the corona pandemic. Who will be the successor of the historic chancellor?

Armin Laschet: candidate of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU)

After he was elected federal chairman of the CDU in early 2021, Armin Laschet, the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, was nominated as the Union's candidate for chancellor against Markus Söder (CSU) in the spring. For months he was in first place in the polls and was considered a favourite for the chancellorship.

A more difficult election campaign than expected

And yet Armin Laschet fell in the polls. One reason for this is the devastating image of him laughing during the Federal President's speech after the deadly floods in southwest Germany.

But who is the candidate catching up with Laschet?

Olaf Scholz: Vice Chancellor and candidate for Chancellor of the SPD

Olaf Scholz, candidate for the Social Democratic Party (SPD), is the current Federal Minister of Finance. He's also the Vice Chancellor of the grand coalition led by Angela Merkel.

Surprising rise in the polls

Contrary to all expectations, Scholz, former mayor of Hamburg, has moved up from third to first place in the race for the Chancellorship.

Merkel's real heir?

Although he does not belong to the Chancellor's party, Olaf Scholz has managed to position himself in the public eye as Merkel's true heir. A trained lawyer, Scholz is both competent and respectful of the most disadvantaged - for example with his proposal for a minimum wage increase.

Annalena Baerbock: candidate of the Greens

Annalena Baerbock, a member of the Bundestag, is candidate for Chancellor on behalf of Alliance 90 / The Greens. Climate protection and ecological sustainability are the focus of their program.

The first green chancellor?

After allegations of plagiarism and doubts about the authenticity of her résumé, the possibility of getting a Green Chancellor seems increasingly unlikely. Despite all this, the Green party could still achieve the best election result in its history.

Christian Lindner is running for the Free Democratic Party (FDP)

With party chairman Christian Lindner as the top candidate, the Liberals are moving towards a double-digit result for the second time in a row. Lindner would like to take over the Federal Ministry of Finance within a possible two- or three-party coalition.

The German nationalists are weaker than in 2017

After entering the Bundestag in the previous election, the far-right, nationalist Alternative for Germany (AFD) now stands lower in the polls. AFD, with Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla as its candidates, did not benefit from the coronavirus crisis.

Die Linke (The Left) is far behind

The last party that currently has a parliamentary group, Die Linke, is far behind the others in the polls. It might be able to participate in the federal government in a coalition with the Social Democrats and the Greens, but it is unlikely that it will deliver the Chancellor.

Other parties

Several smaller parties are also running in the federal elections. For example, the Free Voters, who already co-govern with the Christian Social Union (CSU) at the state level in Bavaria.

But who will be able to form a coalition and govern together with the winner after September 26th?

Governing in coalition

Since no party reaches a majority on its own in the Bundestag, the German government consists of a coalition of parties. The question of which coalition will be able to govern in the next four years, depends on the number of seats each party - large or small - gets on Sunday September 26.

Many coalition options

According to the latest surveys, several constellations are possible: among others, there might be another “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats. Other options are a "traffic light coalition" with the SPD, the Greens and the FDP, or even a red-green-red coalition with The Left (Die Linke).

A few more days of tension

Just a few days before the elections, it is unclear who will form the next federal government. It remains to be seen what exactly the different candidates will achieve. Now the election campaign is still in full swing.

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