In pictures: All the trappings of an Election Day, even without a clear winner

Images from Germany's big day at the ballot boxes. There might even be a dog. (There's a dog.)

In pictures: All the trappings of an Election Day, even without a clear winner

Germans took to the polls en masse on Sunday, charged with, among other things, finding a new chancellor.

But as the clock ticked over from Sunday night into the wee hours of Monday morning, this much was clear: They’ll be waiting a while, and so will we.

Election officials warned that a surge in mail-in ballots this year — thanks, global pandemic — could mean further delays in assembling the final tally. And once that’s in hand, it could still be weeks before we know who will take over the chancellery.

If you’re already weary of talking heads trying to make sense of it all on television, or speculative takeaways churned out on the platform of your choosing (present company excluded, of course), perhaps seeing some familiar faces — er, scenes — will help soothe your nerves.

Predictability is healing. That’s the saying, right?

We’ll start the day with, well, the day before: Participants in the inline skating event at the Berlin Marathon race past campaign posters on Saturday | John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

With the Artistic Representation of an Election out of the way, let’s switch gears to see how Sunday started, with “Important People Voting:”

And they had plenty of help finding those polling places, should they have needed it, thanks to a multitude of “Signs Showing The Way:”

But what, I can hear you asking with trembling anticipation, did it look like inside these polling stations? We aim to please, and thus present “Scenes From Inside Polling Stations:”

Voters in Berlin pose for a high-key stock photograph illustrating the concept of choice — er, sorry … voters in Berlin vote: that’s what they’re doing here | Steffi Loos/Getty Images

OK, the voters have voted. What happens next? Well, reader, are you ever in luck, because you’ve reached “Counting Votes,” aka “Showing Motion In a Still Photograph:”

Volunteers tally ballots in Berlin | Steffi Loos/Getty Images

“Oh, was there an election today? Where?”

… or perhaps she was merely soaking up some sun in front of the Bundestag after a ballot well-cast | Martin Divisek/EPA-EFE

As afternoon turned to evening, with exit polls showing a razor-thin margin, it was clearly time for “Tension In A Time Of Uncertainty:”

It was soon time for “Addressing The Masses:”

Armin Laschet, the CDU chair and its candidate, speaks to a crowd in Berlin, as Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on | Pool photo by Clemens Bilan via Getty Images
The masses seem to have been otherwise occupied, for the most part, during the Greens’ election-night party in Berlin, as its candidate for chancellor, Annalena Baerbock, appears via video feed | David Gannon/AFP via Getty Images

We shouldn’t be, but we can’t help it: “Looking At Charts,” and its companion piece, “Looking At Phones:”

Soon enough, it became time for “Expressing Consternation:”

Tino Chrupalla, co-chair of the right-wing Alternative for Germany and its candidate for chancellor, at the party’s election event in Berlin | Pool photo by Martin Divisek via Getty Images

But at a certain point, it became “Time To Party,” even if there wasn’t much to celebrate.

Supporters of the Greens hit the dance floor Sunday night | Pool photo by Filip Singer via EPA

So ultimately, it’s “Looking On With Anticipation,” redux.

Bright lights, loud music … and uncertainty | Pool photo by Filip Singer via EPA

And with that, we return you to your wait. See you back here again when the next Election Day rolls around.

Source : Politico EU More   

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Post-Merkel, a muddle: 9 German election takeaways

Small parties are big winners in the contest to form the next government.

Post-Merkel, a muddle: 9 German election takeaways

Negotiations among Germany’s parties have just begun. But one election outcome seems clear: The next government will be a centrist one once again — there’s just the small outstanding question of who will lead it.

That question will take weeks or months to answer. But what’s now evident is that the poor results of The Left party — which could have opened the door to a leftist alliance with the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens — mean that the SPD’s Olaf Scholz has diminished leverage.

Here are nine takeaways from election day in Germany.

1. Small is powerful

Both would-be chancellors, Scholz and Armin Laschet of the center-right Union alliance, claim they got a mandate to lead a new government. But their potential partners say that’s not their call. Instead, it’s the night of the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP) — who both see one clear outcome. The Union and SPD “haven’t made any gains overall compared with the last election,” FDP leader Christian Lindner said. That’s why there can be no business as usual in Germany, he concluded, but rather a “time for a new beginning.”

2. United they stand

The leaders of both the Greens and FDP can see there’s a huge chance for them, even though the FDP posted only marginal gains over the last election and the Greens are deflated after coming down from their polling highs of earlier this year.  “It could make sense for FDP and Greens to talk to one another first, to structure what comes next,” said Lindner in a round-table debate of leading candidates. The Green candidate, Annalena Baerbock, agreed.

3. Never say never

The Greens’ co-leader, Robert Habeck, observed that a “traffic light” coalition with the SPD and FDP is actually a complicated deal, given that the SPD and Greens are a closer ideological fit while the FDP is further to the right. But it could nonetheless succeed, he added, as could a grouping of the Union, Greens and FDP — the so-called “Jamaica” option. In short, the possibilities are wide open, in his view. “A new era has begun,” he said. “And whichever of the two understands this better has a very good chance of becoming chancellor.”

4. Competing narratives

Neither FDP nor Greens said the mandate to start talks should go to the biggest party. That’s not their problem to sort out — but the SPD and the Union have already begun arguing over who has the strongest claim to lead the next government. Scholz pointed to the Union’s slide since the last election as a rationale for his chancellorship, while Laschet charged that “a vote for the Union is a vote against a left-led  government.”

5. A government for everybody

“We will do everything possible to form a government under the leadership of the Union,” said Laschet, speaking on stage at the headquarters of his CDU party. “Germany now needs a coalition for the future that will modernize our country,” he added. He promised the Greens and FDP that he would support a coalition in which “each partner must find itself” — a way of saying their signature policies would be prominent in any deal. Or, as Laschet also put it, a government in which “everyone can implement what they have promised their voters.”

6. Fixing Merkel’s failure

That last comment by Laschet referenced the CDU’s first attempt to form a coalition with Greens and FDP four years ago, when the latter walked away in a pique against Chancellor Angela Merkel. This time around, he said, he’d form “a coalition that one likes to make” — playing off of his personal reputation as an easy-going and jovial man. Scholz, meanwhile, said that his priority is “to bring about a good pragmatic government for Germany.”

7. Beware of the Bavarians

Before pursuing his big ambitions, Laschet has to avert a possible putsch. He has been badly damaged after posting the worst result ever for his camp in a national election, while Markus Söder, leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, has made it clear he thinks he would have done better. So it wasn’t a given that Laschet would survive the immediate aftermath of the first exit polls.

But Laschet projected some strength when he went on stage at the CDU headquarters together with his campaign team, the party leadership and, most importantly, Merkel, on Sunday evening as he announced his plans to pursue talks no matter from which position.

Söder, meanwhile, looks like he’s back in line. Just ahead of the election, he had ruled out joining a government in the event of the conservatives coming in second. On Sunday, however, he changed course, saying that the SPD had claimed victory prematurely and that there was just one conclusion to be drawn from the election. “There has been a rejection for a left-wing alliance … rather a mandate for a center-right alliance,” he said. “That’s what we will now negotiate.”

8. Far right posts mixed results

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) lost votes compared to 2017, and with that, its status as the biggest opposition party. It tried to tap into public unhappiness with the government’s pandemic management, but most voters weren’t looking for a protest outlet — at least in the far more populous West.

In the post-communist eastern states, the AfD remains a major force. But imitating them didn’t seem to be a winning strategy for the nominal center: Hans-Georg Maaßen, the former domestic intelligence chief turned ultra-conservative CDU candidate, was fighting for second place in his district in southern Thuringia with the AfD candidate — both far behind SPD candidate Frank Ullrich.

9. Germany goes Dutch

It would almost seem as if Germans looked for Merkel’s best next incarnation and couldn’t see it in any single candidate. The result means we’re likely to have more parties in national government than Germans are used to — something more akin to Dutch coalitions. But that government may be one in which things largely stay the same… and that might have been just what voters were looking for.

Source : Politico EU More   

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