Closed German election results – as it happened

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A live blog from FT.com


Welcome to the FT’s live blog of the German election results. Here’s what to expect later today:

6pm (5pm BST): Polls close. Within a few minutes, the German TV networks will release projected results based on exit polls.

8.15pm (7:15 BST): The party leaders of all the parties expected to be included in the new Bundestag will give their live reactions on a political television programme usually called the “Elefantenrunde”, because it features all the country’s political heavyweights. This is the moment for concessions and claims of victory.

While all this is happening, official counting will be going on and there will be incremental results released by the Federal Returning Officer. This new data, combined with exit polls, will be used to refine the projections, so party percentages and seat totals will fluctuate slightly. Here’s what that looked like in 2013.

3:15am Monday (2:15am BST): By about this time, a complete official result should be available from the Federal Returning Officer.


FT correspondent Tobias Buck has been reading the German papers for you.

Sunday’s papers were dominated by opinion pieces that sought to look beyond the day’s elections and examine the prospects for the next government – and the challenges facing Angela Merkel in her fourth term as chancellor. So safe is her opinion poll lead that no commentator even raises the possibility of victory for Martin Schulz, her Social Democrat rival.

In a front page article for the Welt am Sonntag, Peter Huth points to the dilemma that is likely to face the SPD, which is expected to win no more than 23 per cent of the vote. Many grassroots supporters and junior officials, he says, would like to see the centre-left party rebuild its strength by spending a term in opposition. A spell outside government would also ensure that the right-wing Alternative for Germany will not become the de-facto leader of the opposition, Mr Huth argues.
“Without another grand coalition (between Ms Merkel and the SPD), this would be the position of the SPD. The two big parties would dominate the debate both in parliament and in public.”

In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Volker Zastrow analyses the longevity of Ms Merkel – and of so many of her predecessors. “The federal republic has had several very long chancellorships – of Adenauer, Kohl and Merkel. All of them lasted a dozen years or more. One can complain about the slowness, the boredom. But at the end of the day it is a sign that voters have been mostly content with their government. Yes: the federal republic has been lucky with its chancellors. One only realises this in full when one looks at the screaming misery of the epoch that went before.”

Bild am Sonntag dedicates its first 16 pages to small portraits of 101 Germans who reveal their voting preferences. They include business leaders such as Jürgen Hambrecht, the supervisory board chairman of chemical group BASF, who says he backs the centrist Free Democratic Party, and Oscar-winning film director Volker Schlöndorff, who says: “The age of ideology is over. For me every election today is about personalities. And in that field there is no-one better from my point of view than Angela Merkel. I trust her like I used to trust Willy Brandt.”


The final results of the Financial Times poll tracker, a time-weighted average of the most recent polls released by seven German pollsters, was as follows:

CDU/CSU: 36%
SPD 22%
AfD: 11%
FDP: 10%
Left: 9%
Green: 8%

Excluding the votes for small parties, this gives us an approximate distribution of Bundestag seats that looks like this:

The German polls have in the past been quite reliable. Had we used the same method in 2013, the final poll average would have underestimated the CDU/CSU vote share by 2.5 percentage points, but all the other parties would have been within less than one percentage point of their actual eventual result.

The great unknown is the AfD. With only one previous national election to work with, it’s not entirely clear how reliable the pollsters’ models will be at projecting the populists’ performance. Some experts have warned that social desirability bias might be causing an underestimate of the AfD vote in polls.


“You have two votes”
Germany’s voting system is based on a combination of first-past post system and proportional representation. This means that voters have two votes.

The first vote is for the direct candidate in their constituency. Whoever wins the most votes in a constituency is set as an MP for the German parliament. However, the 299 constituencies only account for about half of the parliament’s seats. Furthermore, the first vote in general only defines who will definitely be an MP but not how many MPs a party will have in the next Bundestag.

The share of seats is defined by the second vote. The second vote defines how many seats a party will get in the next parliament. If a party gets 10 per cent of the votes, it will get ideally (we will talk about the multiple exceptions later) 10 per cent of the 598 seats of the parliament, so 60 (rounded up from 59.8). At the beginning, a party has to give all its MPs that won via first vote a seat. After that, it will fill up the remaining seats according to the so called party lists.


Here’s what to look out for when polls close in just under an hour:

Angela Merkel’s centre-right CDU/CSU bloc enjoys a 14-point polling lead over Martin Schultz’s Social Democrats (SPD), so there’s little doubt about the top-line result. Ms Merkel will almost certainly remain Chancellor as leader of the largest in the faction in the Bundestag. The important questions are all in the details:

Do the numbers add up for Black-Yellow? Will the combined vote share of the CDU/CSU bloc and the liberal Free Democrats be more than 50%? If not, Angela Merkel’s only possible two-party Government would be a continuation of the current Grand Coalition with the SPD. Alternatively, Ms Merkel might try to bring the Greens on board to form a three-way “Jamaica” coalition.

Will the AfD finish third? The populist Alternative for Germany will almost certainly make history as the most successful rightwing party since 1945. But the race for third place remains wide open. If the AfD finish third and a Grand Coalition continues, the populists would be the largest opposition party, giving them the chairmanship of the powerful budget committee and various other privileges. And that might encourage some Social Democrats to prefer serving as the official opposition.

Will the Green party survive? The Greens have been polling in the 7-8% range, low enough to make some nervous about the polls’ margin of error. Though unlikely, a disastrous result at the lowest end of expectations could see them fall below the five-percent threshold for entering the Bundestag. And that would have knock-on effects, increasing the vote share of all the other parties.

How big will the Bundestag get? Seven parties are expected to be represented in the Bundestag, the most since 1953 The inclusion of many parties means many additional seats may be needed to maintain proportionality. The minimum size of the Bundestag is 598 seats, but the outgoing parliament had 630 members, and some experts expect this to balloon to 700 or more MPs in this election, raising concerns about its ability to function effectively.


By 2pm today, 41.1 percent of all persons entitled to vote had cast their votes, according to the Federal Returning Officer. However, this figure does not include the votes of postal voters.
The figure is similar to the turnout in 2013, when 41.4 percent had cast their vote by 2pm. Total turnout in 2013 was 71.5%.


From Kohl’s girl to the nation’s mommy

While people can still vote for about 30 minutes, let us look at the candidates of the two major parties.

“Mein Mädchen”- “My girl” is how Helmut Kohl allegedly spoke about Angela Merkel. Little could Germany’s longest-serving chancellor know that she would become a similarly eternal political figure. If she wins this election — and this seems almost certain tonight — Ms Merkel will probably surpass Konrad Adenauer’s 14 years and 31 days in office to become Germany’s second-longest-serving leader. And she would further cement her status as someone that seems to be an integral part of life in Germany. Matter of fact, this is the reason why Germans half jokingly have nicknamed Merkel “Mutti” – “mommy”.


Meanwhile, Martin Schulz has been struggling of late. A pretty dramatic change. In the mid of March, the impossible seemed to happen. After being named the new leader of Social Democrats’ Party (SPD), Martin Schulz was skying from one polling-high to another. For some time, the SPD was going head to head with Merkel’s Christian Democrat, journalists and pollsters named it the “Schulz”-effect.

However, by May the hype was already gone. After the SPD lost multiple federal state elections, the upward trend had vanished.

That is in line with what pollsters like Matthias Jung from the polling agency Forschungsgruppe Wahlen thought would happen. “The outcome of German elections is rarely predictable well in advance. In the spring of 1994, it looked like the SPD’s candidate Rudolf Scharping could win against Kohl. Half a year later, he clearly lost against the then-chancellor”, says Jung.


Shortly after polls close in 15 minutes’ time, German broadcasters will each publish projections based on exit polls produced in cooperation with one of the major pollsters.

The ARD television exit poll is conducted by pollster Infratest dimap. As this video explains, about 100,000 voters across a representative sample of 624 polling stations will be asked to place another ballot into the pollsters’ ballot box. These ballots are counted and phoned in to the polling firm regularly.

https://twitter.com/tagesschau/status/911835920193720320

And here’s what one of those exit poll ballots looks like; the first section is essentially a duplicate of the real ballot voters would have seen moments earlier:

https://twitter.com/krautreporter/status/911968762789863425


Something to bear in mind:
German election researcher Thorsten Faas from the University of Mainz warns that at this year’s election the first exit polls might not be as accurate as in the past because of this year’s high share of postal votes.

https://twitter.com/wahlforschung/status/911952849097064448


The Free Democrats, who were kicked out of the last Bundestag, the German parliament, are set to re-enter, and could well play kingmaker – we might know in a minute.
Here our piece about the re-emergence of the party.

Polls close – first projections


Emoticon Polls have closed. The first ARD projection by Infratest dimap is:

CDU/CSU: 32.5
SPD: 20
AfD: 13.5
FDP: 10.5
Green: 9.5
Left: 9


Leading candidate of the AfD, Alexander Gauland just said in front of his party supporters about the future role of his party in the parliament.

“Wir werden sie jagen. Wir werden unser Land zurückholen.”

“We will go after them. We well claim back our country”

SPD to go into opposition


With the weak performance of SPD, the party has already decided to lead the opposition in the 19th German parliament, says Manuela Schwesig, SPD minister‐president of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern on German broadcaster ZDF.


Thomas Opperman, the leader of the Social Democrats’ parliamentary party, has confirmed the SPD will go into opposition in an interview on ARD television.


Heading to Jamaica?

The current projections suggest that only two combinations of parties have a potential parliamentary majority, and one of them — a continuation of the current Grand Coalition — has already been publicly ruled out by the SPD:


The last election in 2013 was a problematic one for the Greens. First, the suggestion of a “veggie-day”, a day in the week that should be promoting meatless cooking in public canteens, backfired and damaged its popularity. After that, the party wanted to review its problematic ties to pedophelia and commissioned an external researcher to go through the party’s history.

Just before the 2013-election, this external researcher revealed that the Green’s leading candidate had been the responsible editor in the imprint for a publication in which one author argued in favor of legalising pedophilia. The backlash by this finding was detrimental for the party. This year, the Greens have avoided such bombshells. The party kept a low-profile and some analysts argued that it did not capitalise on the Volkswagen-Diesel scandal. However, it seems like that the Greens performed better than expected and will be at least ahead of the Left party.


Asked whether Martin Schulz will have to go, Manuela Schwesig, SPD minister‐president of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern says on German broadcaster ZDF

Martin Schulz steht als Parteichef steht nicht in Frage.

The party leadership of Martin Schulz is not in question.



Despite the bad result, SPD leading candidate Martin Schulz is met with heavy applause but is honest from the start of his speech.

“Today is a tough day for the social democrats. We have not met our goals and we have lost this federal election.”


The last election was a shock for the liberal democrats. For the first time since World War II, the FDP did not make it into parliament. One reason might have been an infamous change of taxation for hotels that the FDP supported when it came to power with the the CDU and seemed like client politics. Another one might have been the outcry in 2013 about sexist comments of one of its formed leading figures, Rainer Brüderle who told a reporter that “she would surely fill out well a dirndl”. After crashing out of parliament, a lot of stories in German media portrayed the life of former FDP MPs’ life after politics, some of them trying to get back into medicine or work again as an attorney.

However, this time around, the FDP is reentering the parliament. It predominately centered its campaign around its leading candidate Christian Lindner which at times caused mockery by columnists saying that it is hard to see the party behind Lindner’s shadow. In front of his party supporters he just said:

“After failure a comeback is possible – thank you for that. The last Bundestag was the time that there was no liberal voice in the German parliament. And I promise it was the last time.”


The Green party front runner Katrin Göring-Eckardt does not shy away from talking about a potential Jamaica coalition. In her speech she says that coalition discussions will be complicated.

For that we will need to stand together. We showed we can fight together and now we can also take responsibility together.

As of the first projections the Greens have improved their result from 2013 by one percentage point.


Angela Merkel is giving a speech in front of her supporters just now. Here is what she had to say:

“We expected a better result, that is clear. But let’s also be honest, this was a particular difficult term. The good thing is that we will definitely lead the next government. And also it will not be possible for anyone to form a government without us.”


In Bavaria, AfD has targeted traditional CSU voters with a controversial poster implying Franz Joseph Strauß, who served as Bavaria’s ‘minister president’ for the CSU in the 1980s for nearly 10 years, would have voted for AfD.

The poster is controversial in many ways: not only is Munich’s airport named after the former minister president of Bavaria, also one Mr Strauß’s children, Monika Hohlmeier, is a member of the CSU party. She was elected MEP in 2009 and previously served as Bavarian State Minister for Education and Cultural Affairs.
Her reply to the poster on Facebook reads:

Also in the past there were radical parties, which sought to instigate people, create fear and mobilise “anti establishment” sentiment. Still today these parties only offer bogus solutions.

My father used to fight the Republikaner party and the DKP – today they call themselves AfD and Linke. Their arguments were and remain: shouting-down [of opponents], eggs, tomatoes or even steel balls….

In the past, as today, he would have fought against every extreme streams with decisiveness.


As expected, the AfD and Left vote was stronger eastern Germany than in the country as a whole.

According to the east-west breakdown in the Infratest dimap projections,the AfD gained 21.5 in the former East Germany, compared with 13.3 per cent nationally. In the West conversely, the AfD clocks at 11 per cent, slightly behind the FDP with 11.5.

The Left, meanwhile, won 16.5 per cent of the vote in eastern Germany, compared with 9 per cent nationally and 7 per cent in west Germany.

All of the other parties performed worse in eastern Germany, with the CDU on just 26.5 and the SPD on 14.5 per cent.


Furthermore, Merkel also says that she wants to win back voters that went to the AfD. She want to take the fears of the people more seriously, fight illegal immigration and also try to do something about the reasons why people flee their home countries.


According to ZDF projections, amongst all men in Germany’s former eastern ‘Laender’ 27% have voted for AfD – this would make the AfD the strongest party amongst all male voters in eastern Germany, ahead of the CDU with 24%.


The 6pm exit poll was greeted with stunned silence at the headquarters of Germany’s SPD, reports the FT’s Tobias Buck.

Forecast to win little over 20 per cent, the centre-left party was on course to record its worst ever result in the history of the federal republic.

It’s leader, Martin Schulz, was greeted with long applause.

“This is a hard and bitter day for German Social Democracy,” he told supporters. “We didn’t manage to preserve and expand our voting base.”

“We will have to set up the SPD anew over the next weeks and months,” he continued. “My job and my duty to contribute to this process as president of the SPD.”

Mr Schultz also confirmed what several other party leaders had already suggested in television interviews: “Tonight our cooperation with the CDU and CSU ends.”

The announcement of the end of the Grand Coalition was greeted with great applause from the SPD faithful.

His comments appeared to reflect the broader mood at the party base. “Twenty one percent – there’s nothing you can do to beautify such a result,” said Philipp Mittag, an SPD member, who was watching the returns at the party headquarters. “The result is a clear mandate to go into opposition.”


Martin Schulz will probably stay the leader of the social democrats, despite the result of the night. In an interview with German broadcaster ARD, he says that he wants to renew the party from within. Earlier in the evening, other lead figures of the SPD also said that they want to continue with Schulz as the head of their party.


While the first projections are not likely tell us the exact performance of AfD in Bavaria, supporters of Bavaria’s traditionally strong CSU saw the share of the vote for their party fall by over 10%.
In 2013, CSU won 49 per cent of the vote in Bavaria, which translated into 56 seats in the 18th German Bundestag – about 18% of all members of the “Union” of CDU and CSU.
Horst Seehofer, Bavaria’s minister-president and CSU chairman:

We left the right-wing open and that is probably the reason for our result in Bavaria. We need politics that allows Germany to stay German.


Let’s summarise what we know so far, a little more than an hour after polls closed and the first exit poll-based projections landed:

- The CDU, CSU and SPD have all suffered their worst results since the first post-war election in 1949.

- The SPD has ruled out a continuation of the current Grand Coalition government, leaving a three-way “Jamaica” pact between Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc with the Free Democrats and the Greens as the only other combination with a majority, based on current projections.

- The populist AfD has outperformed polls and entered the Bundestag with more than 13 per cent of the vote. It’s the first time a party to right of the CDU/CSU has been voted into the federal parliament since the 1950s.

- The liberal Free Democratic party is the other big winner, returning to the Bundestag after one parliament to become the fourth-biggest party.

- At more than 9 per cent, the Greens might have their second strongest ever, result despite earlier fears that they might fall out of parliament.

- The Left is largely flat, with the latest projections putting them at just under their result in 2013. The exact number here is likely to change over the course of the night, but it looks like it gained votes in the west, offsetting losses in their traditional eastern heartlands.


After tonight, Germany is likely to have an incredibly big parliament.
The Bundestag has no fixed number of seats — it expands from the minimum of 598 to maintain the proportionality of parties and among the 16 federal states.
Given the large number of parties, this equalising process could lead to the creation of a large number of additional seats, leading some experts to warn that the parliament could have as many as 700 MPs.

German election researcher Thorsten Faas from the University of Mainz expects especially CSU’s performance to lead to additional seats.

https://twitter.com/wahlforschung/status/911987079478947842

Some even warn that this would make the business of the chamber difficult — and possibly have constitutional consequences.

Sophie Schönberger, a legal scholar at the University of Konstanz, told Deutschlandfunk:

As the parliament becomes larger, it becomes less possible for it to actually discuss and decide matters, and more and more decisions will be made in committees or even beyond the committees, in informal forums. At some point, one will have to say that that is no longer reflects the constitutional requirement of a functioning legislature.

Je größer das Parlament wird, desto weniger kann natürlich in einer so großen Runde tatsächlich diskutiert und auch entschieden werden und desto mehr werden sich die Entscheidungen weiter in die Bundestagsausschüsse oder sogar noch von den Bundestagsausschüssen weg in informelle Gremien verlagern. Ab irgendeinem Punkt wird man dann sagen müssen, dass das nicht mehr dem verfassungsrechtlichen Leitbild eines funktionierenden Parlaments entspricht.


Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, has tweeted her congratulations to the AfD, calling their result a “a new symbol of the revival of the European peoples”:

https://twitter.com/MLP_officiel/status/911992371067461637

Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch PVV, has also Tweeted his congratulations:

https://twitter.com/geertwilderspvv/status/911987672402612225

Both attended a summit of Europe’s rightwing populist parties hosted by the AfD in Koblenz earlier this year.


An unwanted coalition?

In its exit poll, German broadcaster ARD asked whether voters would be in favour of the “Jamaica” coalition.

As it turns out, only 23 per cent of all respondents would be happy with this new reigning trio. However, this seems to be the only option left after the SPD ruled out being part of the next government.


As so often with German elections, it is interesting to have a look at how east Germany and west Germany voted.

German broadcaster ZDF even has a further breakdown based on its exit polls, showing that the AfD outperforms all other parties when it comes to Eastern German men.

https://twitter.com/ZDF/status/912000537335386112?


The success of the AfD is met with shock but also with instant protest. Right in front of the party’s election party, hundreds of protesters are standing face to face with police forces shouting: “Nazis out.”


What could a Jamaica coalition mean?

Charles Lichfield, Eurasia Group’s associate for Europe believes that domestic policy should be more straight forward than agreeing on European policy.

Domestic policy discussions will be fairly straightforward: everyone agrees that the public surplus should be reinjected into the economy but that governments should continue to sign off on balanced budgets.

Europe will prove a more divisive issue in the “Jamaica” negotiations. Over the past few months, Merkel has repeatedly tested the readiness of public opinion to accept mild Eurozone reforms. Since there has been no backlash, an overly hostile attitude from the FDP could actually undermine their chances of ending up in government.

An end could be in sight for austerity Germany. Oxford Economics expect Germany’s fiscal surplus to peak at 1% of GDP this year, according to Oliver Rakau, chief German economist at Oxford Economics:

The next government – almost guaranteed to be led by Chancellor Angela Merkel – is set to pursue a more pro-cyclical fiscal policy. This is regardless of who the coalition partner is going to be as most mainstream parties have promised an element of lower taxes and increased spending.


Let us quickly sum up the latest events

- The CDU, CSU and SPD have all suffered their worst results since the first post-war election in 1949.

- The SPD has ruled out a continuation of the current Grand Coalition government, leaving a three-way “Jamaica” pact between Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc with the Free Democrats and the Greens as the only other combination with a majority, based on current projections. However, first exit polls show that this is a coalition not met with a lot of support. Only 23 per cent of all respondents were in favour of this trio.

- The populist AfD has outperformed polls and entered the Bundestag with more than 13 per cent of the vote. It’s the first time a party to right of the CDU/CSU has been voted into the federal parliament since the 1950s. Especially in the east, the party was strong. However, a coalition with the AfD has been ruled out by all parties. In front of its election party in Berlin, protesters have assembled.

- The liberal Free Democratic party is the other big winner, returning to the Bundestag after one parliament to become the fourth-biggest party.

- At more than 9 per cent, the Greens might have their second strongest ever, result despite earlier fears that they might fall out of parliament.

- The Left is largely flat, with the latest projections putting them at just under their result in 2013. The exact number here is likely to change over the course of the night, but it looks like it gained votes in the west, offsetting losses in their traditional eastern heartlands.


It’s time for the “Elefantenrunde” talk show, so called because it features all of Germany’s political heavyweights. The leaders of all the parties elected to the Bundestag, including Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz, will give their reactions.

More in a moment…


Social democrats’ leading candidate Martin Schulz admits his loss but starts to attack chancellor Angela right away. He says that her election campaign was “scandalous” and says that she did not stand up to debate against him. “The loss of eight to nine per cent is the fair result of her unwillingness to have political arguments.”


CDU’s Angela Merkel says she is thankful that she remains in government 12 years after first becoming Bundeskanzler.

I have hoped for a better result but I am not disappointed. We clearly remain the strongest party and no party can build a government without us.


AfD-chairman Joerg Meuthen says that thanks to his party the opposition will become stronger and more critical about the government. Also, he says that Angela Merkel broke the law several times and his party wants to go after this.


Katja Kipping, chairperson of The Left sees itself as one of the winners of the election night. “We obviously have mixed feelings,” she says, adding that the election results are an “expression of a move to the right” and calls for more social justice.


Christian Lindner, leader of the FDP, denies that he has been “damned to govern” by the SPD’s decision to go into opposition.

“We are not damnned to govern, but ready”, says Lindner. “It’s about the stability of the federal republic”, he says. Everyone should think about why can contribute to that, including in opposition, he says, meaning Martin Schulz and the SPD.

Green leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt hints at the difficult compromises that would be necessary to form a government alongside the free-market FDP. The Greens, she says, stand for the implementation of the Paris climate accord and increasing equality in Germany, and this would have to considered in any government within which they participate.

Martin Schulz says he will be an effective opposition to the this “government of contradictions”, and already has the sound of a forceful opposition leader. He assures the Green and Liberal leaders that Ms Merkel will be a “Ideenstaubsauger” — an ideas vacuum cleaner — readily taking on their positions to stay in power.


SPD-leader Martin Schulz says that he and his party are determined to go into opposition. “I think that confrontation is desperately needed now in the political culture of this country”, says Schulz. He thinks it is crucial for the SPD to hold the government to account and not to leave the role of a critical opposition solely to the AfD.


While the Elefantenrunde is going on, the protest in front of the AfD’s election party is growing. About thousand protesters have assembled in the middle of Berlin.

https://twitter.com/RaphaelThelen/status/912017985216434176

Scores of police were deployed to protect the building and the guests inside.


AfD-leader Joerg Meuthen claims that his party welcomes all Germans – also people with migrational background. He even claims that his party is especially strong among this particular group of people and denies any right-wing, nationalistic tendencies. Also, he states again that Angela Merkel broke the law several times with her decisions in the past.


Asked whether it was CSU-chairman Horst Seehofer’s fault that the party lost over 10% of the vote in Bavaria compared to 2013, CSU’s interior minister of Bavaria Joachim Herrmann says everyone in the CSU is responsible.
“In Bavaria we are clearly disappointed,” he says. The weak outcome for the party, which only exists in Bavaria, comes ahead of a federal election in Bavaria in 2018. “We are not satisfied with 38% but this is still a respectable outcome.”
He adds that the CSU has nothing in common with “AfD positions” but says the party should “close the right flank”.


Martin Schulz says that he knows how to handle right-wing parties from his time as the president of the European parliament. “They send out people like Mr. Meuthen first that sound reasonable and then you have people like Alexander Gauland, Alice Weidel.” Schulz goes even further and makes a historical comparison and points to the fact that the SPD opposed the nazis before World War II.


Angela Merkel does not yet want to give in on the option of a Grand Coalition and suggests that “arithmetically, it is still possible to reach a Grand Coalition” and that a working government is everyone’s responsibility “at this table”.
She adds that she is “a bit sad” that the work of the Grand Coalition is being talked down.

We live in stormy times. I appeal to everyone to take responsibility.


Here another analysis from ARD worth mentioning while the “Elefantenrunde” is continuing.

https://twitter.com/larafritzsche/status/912015360760668160

60 per cent of AfD voters choose the party because they were disappointed by current politics.


Joerg Meuthen is again changing the course of what the general perception of the AfD is. He says his euro-sceptic party is proud of the accomplishments of the European Union and strongly in favour of it. At the same time, he says he think it is not right to force Poland or Hungary to provide shelter for more refugees.


The Left’s Katja Kipping criticises the media for giving AfD and refugee-related topics too much air time “social topics are only covered on the fringes” and attacks the AfD for using the refugee issue as an answer to every problem. “We do not want a say for Nazis,” she says.


As in many recent regional elections, the AfD’s biggest source of support were people who were abstainers in the previous election.

The AfD mobilised 1.2m of them, according to the exit polls:

https://twitter.com/BR24/status/912013351588417536


Interesting for our British readers. Martin Schulz confirms he is for a strong stance against the UK in terms of Brexit. He is not willing to offer more concessions to Theresa May and also does not want to offer more to Hungary in terms of asylum politics. “If we keep on backing down, the concept of the European Union is in danger”, says Schulz.


Asked whether “Schengen is dead”, Joachim Herrmann says that he was always a supporter of Schengen but that the basis for that was working external borders. As long as external borders are not secure, he wants to keep border checks in Bavaria.


Who won and lost in east and west Germany

More about the comparison between the once divided country in a chart:


More and more, it becomes clear that also in other major German cities protesters assemble on the street after seeing the results for the AfD. Here is a video from Cologne.

https://twitter.com/malotki/status/912010334994620417


European leaders will be interested in views and standpoints of Germany’s new government, as France’s President Emmanuel Macron was said to be planning to publish his reform ideas for the eurozone this week.

Talking about Europe and the EU, Angela Merkel says that there is a need for “a real Europe, a strong Europe”. Any reforms done on an EU level will have to support this, she says, while anything that does not, will have to be discussed.

As SPD’s Martin Schulz has ruled out a Grand Coalition, government building is likely to take months – it took around two months in 2013 – when there was one party less to discuss with.

Still, Merkel says she was “confident” that she could form a working coalition before Christmas. “Strength lies in serenity,” she says.


Elliot Hentov, head of policy and research – official institutions EMEA at State Street Global Advisors calls the election result bad for Merkel and Macron:

Germany has become less predictable as of tonight so markets should take note. The success of the populist far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) is rippling through German politics by removing the conventional coalition options for Merkel. She now has to experiment with the first three-party federal coalition (not counting Bavarian sister party, Christian Social Union (CSU)) in Germany’s history. By simple arithmetic, this requires more negotiation and coordination. Moreover, the political gaps between the parties remain large and both The Greens (Alliance 90) and the Free Democrat Party (FDP) have every incentive to be tough partners. Therefore it is not expected any government formation would proceed quickly or exhibit the usual German stability. Tonight was as much a bad night for Merkel as for French President Macron.

His colleague Timothy Graf, head of macro strategy EMEA at State Street Global Markets also shares some comments:

This election was always going to be most interesting during the coalition-building process, after the ballots were counted. With that in mind, this weekend’s results offer the most intrigue for the coming months. In forcing German Chancellor, Angela Merkel to cobble together a coalition with at least two other parties, the potential for headline risk is at its highest. While the actual market impact is likely to be minimal over the medium-term, this weekend’s result does introduce more risk into European political proceedings than previously estimated.


Official results are starting to come in to the Federal Returning Officer.

Germany’s Funke newspaper group has a live, English-language map showing the constituency results as they come in.


It is interesting to see how quickly the SPD opted out of the possibility to be part of the next government. At the same time, Greens and Liberals seemed also a little hesitant to form a coalition with Angela Merkel during the televised post-election talk. This is probably not only because the “Jamaica” coalition has so far only been in power in one federal state in Germany.

Getting into power is what every party wishes for. But in the case of the coalition partners of Merkel this comes with a hefty price: an almost certain loss in seats in the next election. As the Berliner Morgenpost pointed out, the three junior partners always started to dwindle down in polls after they formed a coalition with Merkel’s CDU. And by the time of the next election, this always meant a loss of vote share.


What could a new government mean for the German economy?

Oliver Rakau, chief German economist at Oxford Economics expects easing between of 0.5%-1% of GDP.

German party manifestos traditionally lack that kind of detail, making it difficult to fully quantify the economic and fiscal effects. One of the reasons is to leave wiggle room during coalition talks without disappointing party supporters.

Mr Rakau also believes any new German government to cut income tax:

The CDU and FDP tax proposals include large and broad-based income tax cuts amounting to €22bn and €17bn respectively. Relative to income the tax easing is larger for lower income earners, but in absolute terms high income earners benefit more. The SPD and the Left want to re-distribute the tax burden from lower income to high income households with the Left party aiming for a net easing of €7.6bn.


The main stories for the night have become clear now:

- The CDU, CSU and SPD have all suffered their worst results since the first post-war election in 1949. It seems like voters clearly had enough of the current grand coalition. However, the CDU/CSU are still the strongest party in the next parliament.

- Angela Merkel has called for all parties to “take responsibility” and said she would be starting coalition talks in the coming days with all sides. However, the SPD has ruled out to be part of the next government. Its leading candidate Martin Schulz said: “I think that confrontation is desperately needed now in the political culture of this country.” By being part of the opposition he wants to fight against the claim of the AfD being the only “true party of opposition”.

- This leaves Merkel with only one other likely option: a three-way “Jamaica” pact between Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc with the Free Democrats and the Greens. However, first exit polls show that this is a coalition not met with a lot of support. Only 23 per cent of all respondents were in favour of this trio. The Jamaica coalition would be the first three party-coalition since the second Bundestag (counting CDU/CSU as a union).

- The populist AfD has outperformed polls and entered the Bundestag with more than 13 per cent of the vote. It’s the first time a party to right of the CDU/CSU has been voted into the federal parliament since the 1950s. Especially in the east, the party was strong and could win most of the (more important) second votes in Saxony. However, a coalition with the AfD has been ruled out by all parties. In front of the AfD’s election party in Berlin, protesters have assembled. Also, in other cities protests against the party have been reported.

- The liberal Free Democratic party is the other big winner, returning to the Bundestag after one parliament to become the fourth-biggest party. Christian Lindner, its leading candidate said in front of his supporters: “After failure a comeback is possible – thank you for that. The last Bundestag was the time that there was no liberal voice in the German parliament. And I promise it was the last time.”

- At around 9 per cent, the Greens might have their second strongest ever result despite earlier fears that they might fall out of parliament. In her address to her party members, Green party front runner Katrin Göring-Eckardt indicated that coalition discussions would be complicated and that “for that we will need to stand together. We showed we can fight together and now we can also take responsibility together,” she said.

- The Left is largely unchanged if you only look at their overall result, with the latest projections putting them at just under their result in 2013. But it looks like it gained votes in the west and suffered big losses in their traditional eastern heartlands.


A reaction from Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs

https://twitter.com/pierremoscovici/status/912053784515432448


A tweet by German broadcaster ARD’s Tagesschau shows division within the country: Between AfD’s election party inside and demonstrations outside – protests also taking place in Cologne, Frankfurt and Hamburg

https://twitter.com/tagesschau/status/912054288481955840


While we are waiting for the official results, which will allows us to provide more in-depth analysis, here is a profile of German party voters we created based on a survey from 2016. The special thing about it: It was not us who did most of the analysis but a machine-learning algorithm.


The FT’s Tony Barber reacts to the results of Germany’s election and tells us why Angela Merkel’s fourth victory will see difficult times ahead.


AfD winning a constituency via first vote

Before the election, it was speculated whether the AfD might be able to win one of the 299 constituencies via first vote. Now, it looks like this just happened in constituency number 158, “Sächsische Schweiz-Osterzgebirge” in Saxony. This is the constituency in which Frauke Petry is standing. And there might be even more to come.

While this does not increase their number of seats because of how the way the German electoral system works, it is certainly a prestigious win for the AfD-lead figure, who has been facing internal battles against other party members for some time.


Why are seat numbers still unclear?
Although the projections for the voters’ share seem to be stable, it is still not clear how this will translate to seat numbers in the new parliament. The reason for this is that the mathematics needed to work out the result under Germany’s electoral mixed-member proportional electoral system is wonderfully complex. It ensures that the result is proportional between the parties at both the national and state level, and that that the relative size of the 16 states’ seat allocations remain proportional to their populations.

Luckily, data journalist Lisa C Rost has made a spreadsheet — in English — to help you work out what’s happening.
She also has a handy visual explaination on her blog.
The best calculator website to work out the detailed outcome is / Mandatsrechner.de, which projects a detailed result based on the latest polling data.

German polling site Signal & Rauschen has an interview with Christian Brugger, the site’s creator, who will also be making a detailed projection tonight.

The Tagesspiegel newspaper also has a slick interactive version of the calculator.


In Berlin, there is another election going today — a referendum on the future of Tegel airport, which is slated for closure following the much-delayed completion of Berlin-Brandenburg airport. A ballot initiative is attempting to keep it open, and current polls suggest it could win.

The airport referendum campaign has everything the general election has lacked, reports the FT’s Tobias Buck — “raw emotion, anger, last-minute legal skirmishes, plenty of controversy and a highly uncertain outcome”.


While AfD success is important to mention, scores of German voters are taking to Twitter to highlight that 87% of the electorate did not vote for the far-right party, like journalist Lina Timm.

https://twitter.com/Luisante/status/911991601844690945

https://twitter.com/chaseongermany/status/912064472377888768


Our colleague John Burn-Murdoch visualised how votes shifted between the parties. It clearly shows how the AfD won disengaged non-voters and former CDU-voters.


Two more seats won by the AfD via first votes – Tino Chrupalla took the Görlitz seat 157 from CDU’s Michael Kretschmer with a one percentage point margin. Karsten Hilse won Bautzen I (156) by 2.6 percentage points.
All three AfD politicians taking first vote majorities have been in Saxony.


The projections will continue to be refined for the next few hours as the last of the official constituency data becomes available from the Federal Returning Officer.

We will close the live blog here, but all of our coverage, including the full results and more analysis, is on our German election page.