Social Democrats say ready to form coalition

International

The Latest on Germany’s general election on Sunday:

BERLIN – The general secretary of the center-left Social Democrats says he believes his party has been given a mandate to form a ruling coalition, based on exit polls in Germany’s general election.

Lars Klingbeil was speaking moments after the exit polls were published by the two main television channels on Sunday.

In a poll by the ZDF channel, the SPD was slightly ahead of its main rival, the center-right Union bloc, 26% to 24%. In the poll published by the ARD channel, the parties pulled even at 25%.

The polls suggested significant gains for the Social Democrats, compared to its standing earlier this year, and a sharp drop for the Union bloc. Klingbeil says the party now “has the mission to form a coalition,” and for its top candidate, Olaf Scholz to become chancellor.

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BERLIN – The general secretary of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Union bloc says that early exit polls “hurt” as the party looked at its worst result since 1949.

With different exit polls putting the Union bloc neck-and-neck or slightly below the center-left Social Democrats, Paul Ziemiak said on Sunday that his party nevertheless wants to “serve this country” and will consider a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats.

Exit polls by public broadcasters ARD and ZDF show the Union bloc down 8-9% compared to 2017, after four elections in which the party won under Merkel. Her successor, Armin Laschet, had low personal approval ratings and some in the party had questioned whether he was the right candidate for chancellorship.

Ziemiak said that his party was looking at “bitter losses” that would need to be analyzed.

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