With Merkel Out, Germany’s CDU Suffer Their Worst Result in Federal Election since World War II
With outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel completing her fourth and last term at the helm of Germany, her center-right bloc CDU/CSU suffered its worst result even in a federal election against the backdrop of gains for the center-left and the Greens.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) led in Sunday’s election by its chancellor candidate Armin Laschet, together with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) received only 24.2% of the votes.
This is the CDU/CSU alliance’s worst electoral score since Germany’s first elections after World War II were held in 1949.
It is a drop of 8.9 percentage points compared with the previous federal election in 2017, and it also the first time the CDU/CSU has received fewer than 30% of the votes.
The decision of Angela Merkel, who has served four consecutive four-year terms as German chancellor, to step down also made the 2021 federal election notable by turning it into the first federal vote in the country’s postwar history in which the incumbent chancellor hasn’t sought reelection.
While the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) has come on top, its result of 25.7%, an increase of 5.2 percentage points from the past election in 2017, isn’t much greater than the CDU’s, and leaving wide open the question as to who led the coalition to form Germany’s next government.
The environmentalist Greens party came in third in Germany’s federal election on Sunday, with its best electoral score ever at 14.6%, up 5.7 percentage points from 2017.
The liberal centrist Free Democratic Party remained fourth with 11.5% of the votes, up 0.7 percentage points from four years ago.
The fifth spot is for the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) which received 10.4%, down 2.3 points from 2017.
The far-leftist “Left” party is sixth with only 4.8% of the votes, down 4.3% from the previous federal elections.
Sunday’s federal vote in Germany saw a rather high turnout of 76.6%.
The results have opened the way for various coalition possibilities although both of the two biggest formations, the CDU/CSU and the SPD, which have been ruling Germany in a “grand right-left coalition” since 2017, might opt to try to form a three-way coalition, most likely including the Greens.
If that proves to be the case, it will be the first time since Germany will have three parties in power at the federal level since the 1960s.
Both the Social Democrats and the Greens have gained more than five percentage points compared with the previous federal election in 2017, which is giving them a morale boost against the backdrop of the CDU/CSU alliance’s grim result.
SPD’s win, however, is hardly too categorical, while the Greens had higher hopes based on projections earlier in the electoral campaign.
(Chart: The projection of the 2021 German federal election results from Infratest dimap/ARD)