Germany’s Social Democrats narrowly won national election, projected results showed, and claimed a “clear mandate” to lead a government for the first time since 2005. It also leads to end 16 years of conservative-led rule under Angela Merkel. The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) were on track for nearly 26 percent of the vote, ahead of 24.5 per cent for Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative bloc, projections for broadcaster ZDF showed, but both groups believed they could lead the next government. 

A partial count based on 267 of the 299 constituencies showed the Social Democrats leading with 25.7 per cent of the vote against 24.6 percent for the Union bloc. No winning party in a German national election had previously taken less than 31 per cent of the vote.The results are not yet final and the margin is small, but the centre-left Social Democrats could be closing in on victory.

With neither major bloc commanding a majority, and both reluctant to repeat their “grand coalition” of the past four years, the most likely outcome is a three-way alliance led by either the Social Democrats or Merkel’s conservatives. Agreeing a new coalition could take months, and will likely involve the smaller Greens and liberal Free Democrats

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