Germany goes to the polls today in one of the most unpredictable elections in its recent history. Angela Merkel’s conservatives led by Armin Laschet and the centre-left Social Democrats led by Olaf Scholz are in a tight race for her crown as she prepares to leave the political stage after 16 years wielding the reins of power.
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8:00am Paris time
Polling stations have opened across Germany for people to cast their votes in in the federal parliamentary elections. Polling stations will stay open until 6:00pm Paris time.
After they close, the Federal Returning Officer will announce provisional election results. These will be calculated using exit poll data and published results from local voting districts gathered so far. The vote count will then continue until the early hours of the morning.
Opinion polls show the race for the chancellery headed for a photo finish, with Merkel’s CDU-CSU conservative alliance on around 23 percent, just behind the centre-left Social Democrats on 25 percent. This two-point disparity falls well within the margin of error.
“We will certainly see some surprises on Sunday,” said Nico Siegel, head of the Infratest Dimap polling company.
According to the Federal Statistical Office around 60.4 million Germans are eligible to cast a ballot in this election, with the number of women (31.2 million) higher than men (29.2 million).
The new government takes power when the Bundestag has elected a chancellor with an absolute majority of over 50%. The chancellor then names the cabinet ministers. Merkel will remain in office in a caretaker role until the new government has officially taken office.