SPD Narrowly Wins German Election against Merkel's CDU But Uncertainty Remains over Next Leader

According to the preliminary official result, the center-left Social Democrats won the largest percentage of seats in the German parliament, known as the Bundestag, with 25.7% (206 seats).

The conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and Bavarian sister party CSU came second with 24.1%, or 196 seats.

This was over 8% down on the previous election and their worst result since World War II.

The environmentalist Greens recorded their best-ever result, coming in third on 14.8%. or 118 seats.

The neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) also made significant gains compared to the previous electrion in 2017.

The other parties who will be represented in the new parliament are the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the socialist Left party.

The Social Democrats' candidate, Olaf Scholz, the outgoing vice chancellor and finance minister, said the outcome was “a very clear mandate to ensure now that we put together a good, pragmatic government for Germany.”

As for when there could be a new government, he said Sunday night "it would be absurd to give an exact date."

Some countries believe Germany's new government will be a continuation of Merkel's 16-year reign. Others see a possible new coalition government under SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz as an opportunity for greater cooperation.

Here's a look at how various governments reacted to the outcome.

"I will be darned... they're solid." US President Joe Biden said when asked by a reporter Sunday evening about the results showing the SPD in the lead.

"We hope and expect that the new German government continues its pragmatic and balanced China policy," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Monday as quoted by DW.

During Merkel's tenure, German-Sino economic ties have grown closer, with major German firms such as Siemens and Volkswagen developing a strong foothold in the country.

European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune from France said the election result signified "stability and continuity."

"Here is a country, our close neighbor, that puts great value on moderation, stability and continuity," Beaune told the France 2 broadcaster.

Germany and France are two of the most influential political players in the EU, with the two countries playing a leading role in shaping the bloc's political and security priorities. The two neighboring countries are also close trading partners.

European Parliament President David Sassoli hailed the results.

"Congratulations Olaf Scholz and SPD on your victory!" Sassoli tweeted. "After this historic crisis, there is no time to lose: Europe needs a strong and reliable partner in Berlin to continue our common work for a social and green recovery."

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, who previously served as defense minister under Merkel, has not yet commented on the results.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said Monday that the Russian government is hopeful for "continuity" after the results.

"Of course, we count on continuity in our bilateral relations," Peskov told journalists. He said although the two countries have disagreements on some issues, "we are united by an understanding that problems can and should be solved through dialogue."

Germany has previously condemned Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and called for the release of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. At the same time, Merkel has greenlit the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline which extends from Russia and Germany. /Compiled by argumentum.al