Berlin (dpa) – German voters vote on the future composition of the Bundestag. About 60,000 polling stations opened at 8 a.m. on Sunday. The SPD and Union Chancellor candidates, Olaf Scholz and Armin Laschet, voted in the morning.
After the last polls before the vote, the race could be very close. In parallel with the federal elections, a new Land parliament is elected in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the Land parliament in Berlin.
After voting in Potsdam, Scholz again called on citizens to vote for a strong SPD result. “So that the citizens give me the mandate to become the next Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he said. Scholz is running for a direct mandate in the Potsdam constituency. Green Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock will also be a direct candidate. She wanted to vote at noon.
Union chancellor candidate Armin Laschet (CDU) voted at his home in Aachen. The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia said the parliamentary elections would decide Germany’s direction in the coming years. “And that’s why every vote counts.” CSU boss Markus Söder said at his polling station in Nuremberg that he was not nervous about the election result, but was a bit tense. “There are better days.”
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has already voted. At a Berlin polling station that morning, he thanked the roughly 650,000 volunteer election workers. “Those who vote live democracy.” He added, “Whoever helps organize them is doing the community a service.”
There are 47 evenings to choose from
Almost 60.4 million Germans are called to vote before 6 p.m. About 2.8 million citizens are participating for the first time in a federal election. In total, 47 parties are standing for election.
There were no nationwide voter turnout figures as of noon. In several large cities, turnout until late morning was higher than in the 2017 federal election, with increased mail-in votes also playing a role.
In Hamburg, according to the authorities, 50.2% of eligible people had already made their cross by 11 a.m. This is largely due to the increase in the return of postal votes, said state election official Oliver Rudolf of the German news agency. Four years ago, only 37.4% of eligible people had voted by then.
In the metropolis of Cologne in North Rhine-Westphalia, 19.37% of eligible people had voted by 11 a.m., according to the administration. In 2017, it was 17.37% at that time. Postal voters were included on a pro rata basis.
In the Bavarian capital of Munich, nearly 60% of voters had voted by 11 a.m. – including postal votes. A similar value was not reached until around 2 p.m. in the last federal election. In Lower Saxony, around 14.3% of eligible voters voted within two hours of opening the polling station. “This is significantly more than at this point in 2017,” said a spokeswoman for the state returning officer in Hanover.
Intermediate result in the afternoon
In the afternoon, the federal returning officer will announce an interim statute on voter turnout. It is expected that this time around, more people will vote by mail than ever before. According to the Federal Return Office, it could be at least 40 percent. In 2017, 28.6% of those eligible to vote had already resorted to postal voting. Four years ago the turnout was 76.2%.
Given the large number of recently undecided voters, the election result is considered open. However, it seems likely that Germany will be governed by a tripartite alliance in the future. According to polls, various tripartite alliances are currently possible, in addition to a traffic light coalition of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP, an alliance of the SPD, the Greens and the left, as well as a coalition led by the CDU coalition with the Greens and the FDP.
In public opinion polls for the federal election, the Union was recently slightly behind the SPD with chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz. The SPD came in at 25 to 26 percent, the Union at 22 to 25. In third place were the Greens with 16 to 17 percent. It is followed by the FDP (10.5 to 12%), the AfD (10) and the Left (5 to 6). However, opinion polls are just snapshots of political mood and say nothing about the outcome of the election. This applies even more to this election due to the high number of voters who have recently been undecided.
Since the 2017 federal election, the CDU and CSU have emerged as the most powerful force with 32.9%. The SPD came in at 20.5%, the AfD was the third strongest force with 12.6%. He was followed by the FDP (10.7%), the left (9.2) and the Greens with 8.9%.