Due to election night, the Germans were deprived, Sunday, September 26, of their usual Tatort. They did not lose in the exchange. In terms of dramaturgy, the political spectacle they attended was well worth their Sunday detective drama. With even an added dose of suspense: while at the end of a Tatort, we know the murderer, Germany went to bed on Sunday without knowing who will be her future chancellor.

To tell the truth, it is not a surprise. In recent days, the conservative candidate (CDU-CSU), Armin Laschet, recalled that nothing prevents a party in second position from seeking to form a coalition. This is exactly what he said again on Sunday after having read the first estimates giving the Social Democrats (SPD) in the lead, at around 26%, ahead of the conservatives, at 24%. “We will do all we can to form a government led by the CDU-CSU”, declared Mr. Laschet, a little before 7 p.m., from the CDU headquarters in Berlin, while noting a “Result which is not at all satisfactory”.

Olaf Scholz, the SPD contender in the chancellery, in Berlin, September 26, 2021, after the announcement of the first results.

Less than ten minutes later, four kilometers away, Olaf Scholz also claimed victory. “Today, a large number of voters voted for the SPD because they want a change of government and they want the next chancellor to be called Olaf Scholz”, declared the candidate of the Social Democrats, speaking of him in the third person from the great hall of the building of the SPD, right next to the statue of the former chancellor Willy Brandt.

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This parallelism should not be misleading, however. If they are close, the results of the SPD and the CDU-CSU do not have the same political significance. For the Social Democrats, these 25.7%, according to a provisional official count announced Monday by the Federal Election Commission, are a real success since in 2017, they had obtained only 20.5% of the vote. For the conservatives, on the other hand, these 24.1% are disastrous: down 9 points compared to 2017 and even 17 points compared to 2013, the CDU-CSU recorded, on Sunday, the worst score in its history. .

Conservative stampede

Stinging, this rout is even more so in view of certain local results which are symbolically heavy with meaning. In Stralsund (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), by the Baltic Sea, it was the SPD candidate who won in the constituency that Angela Merkel had held for thirty years. In Aachen (North Rhine-Westphalia), stronghold of Armin Laschet, the CDU candidate was beaten by that of the Greens. In the Saarland, the Minister of the Economy, Peter Altmaier (CDU), loyal among the faithful of Mme Merkel, lost to her colleague in charge of foreign affairs, the Social Democrat Heiko Maas. In the same region, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was defeated by her opponent from the SPD. In Hesse, Helge Braun (CDU), number two in the Federal Chancellery, was also defeated by a Social Democrat.

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