German Social Democrat Olaf Scholz vowed on Monday to strengthen the European Union and keep up the transatlantic partnership in a three-way coalition government he hopes to form by Christmas to take over from Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD) came first in Sunday’s national election, just ahead of the conservatives, and aim to lead a government for the first time since 2005 in a coalition with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP).
The SPD, Germany’s oldest party, won 25.7% of the vote, up five percentage points from the 2017 federal election, ahead of Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative bloc on 24.1%, provisional results showed. The Greens came in with 14.8% and the FDP won 11.5%.
Scholz, who served as finance minister in Merkel’s outgoing ‘grand coalition’, said a government led by him would offer the United States continuity in transatlantic relations.
Scholz said he hoped to agree a coalition before Christmas, “if possible”. However, his conservative rival Armin Laschet, 60, said he could still try to form a government despite leading his CDU/CSU bloc to their worst ever national election result.
The Greens and FDP said late on Sunday they would first talk to each other to seek areas of compromise before starting negotiations with either the SPD or the conservatives.
Merkel, who did not seek a fifth term as chancellor, will stay on in a caretaker role during the coalition negotiations that will set the future course of Europe’s largest economy.
Meanwhile, German shares rose on Monday, with investors pleased that the pro-business FDP looked likely to join the next government while the far-left Linke failed to win enough votes to be considered as a coalition partner.