The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Slight edge for Social Democrats in race to succeed Merkel in German election, projection shows

Campaign posters in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Sept. 23 show the three top candidates for German chancellor. From left, Olaf Scholz of the Social Democratic Party, Annalena Baerbock of the Greens and Armin Laschet of the Christian Democratic Union. (Martin Meissner/AP)

Germany’s parliamentary elections are underway, and just one thing is certain: The era of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been in power for 16 years, is coming to an end. The race for her successor remains wide open. Two parties are battling it out on top: Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union and the center-left Social Democratic Party. The Greens appear behind in the polls but remain a big factor in possible post-election efforts to craft a coalition government.

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What you need to know

  • Exit polls and early results give slight edge to Social Democrats, but race still close. See full results here.
  • Greens party holds third place.
  • No party is expected to get a parliament majority, setting up talks on a coalition government led by the top vote-getter.
  • Merkel will remain leader during coalition negotiations.