Merkel ‘congratulates Scholz on his election victory’

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Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has congratulated Finance Minister Olaf Scholz from the rival Social Democrats on his election victory, a government statement said on Wednesday as Merkel’s conservatives are still in disarray after the vote.

The Scholz SPD won 25.7% of the vote in Sunday’s hard-fought general election, while Merkel’s center-right CDU-CSU bloc fell to a record low of 24.1%.

“The Chancellor congratulated Olaf Scholz on Monday on his election success,” the statement said.

Merkel’s future Conservative successor Armin Laschet has not yet made it public.

Although the Conservative alliance led to its worst result in its seven-decade history, the unpopular Laschet has insisted on trying to form the next German coalition government with him as chancellor.

But the main conservatives have increasingly distanced themselves from Laschet in recent days, raising doubts about his future.

READ HERE | European markets are climbing after tight German election results

Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder, leader of the CSU’s sister party to the CDU, publicly congratulated Scholz at a press conference on Tuesday, illustrating a growing rift with Laschet.

“Olaf Scholz clearly has a better chance of becoming chancellor at the moment,” Soeder said, insisting that the election result “must be accepted, it is a fundamental rule of democracy”.

Merkel herself stands up after 16 years at the helm of Europe’s top economy.

But the veteran leader will continue in a caretaker capacity until the new government is formed, which is expected to take weeks or even months.

Since neither the SPD nor the CDU-CSU are anxious to establish themselves in a so-called grand coalition, the only way to achieve a parliamentary majority is by cooperating with the Greens and the FDP.

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