German election live

Live commentary on today’s German election, plus Canadian final results and crucial US votes in Congress. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Live Commentary

3:11pm If Germany just used FPTP seats without the list top-ups, what would the result have been? Wikipedia has the CDU/CSU winning 143 of the 299 FPTP seats, the SPD 121, the Greens 16, AfD 16 and three very important seats for the Left. The FDP won zero FPTP seats.

2:50pm Seat count now official. This is easily the worst vote share since WW 2 for the CDU/CSU. In 2017, right-wing parties won the overall vote by 56.2-38.6, so the margin falling to just 0.5% to the right at this election is still a massive improvement for the left.

2:35pm From these parliamentary numbers, it takes 368 seats to get a majority. Combining the SPD, Greens, Left and SSW gives them 364 seats, tantalizingly close to that majority. It is likely there will be weeks and possibly months of wrangling before we get our next German government. With no other parties prepared to work with the AfD, a right-left coalition will be needed. A plausible combination is SPD, Greens and FDP, or even another grand coalition between SPD and CDU/CSU, this time with SPD as the senior partner.

2:24pm I can’t see anything yet on official sites, but the Europe Elects twitter account has the parliamentary seat result. There will be a total of 735 seats, up 26 from 709 in 2017 and far exceeding the minimum of 598. The SPD won 206 seats, the CDU/CSU 196, the Greens 118, the FDP 92, the AfD 83, the Left 39 and an ethnic environmentalist party (SSW) one seat (ethnic parties are exempt from the 5% threshold).

2pm The Left party won three of the 299 FPTP seats, just enough to qualify for proportional allocation of seats, after coming just below the 5% national threshold with 4.9%. Their closest seat win was in Leipzig, where they beat the Greens by 22.8% to 18.4% with a split field.

1:08pm With all 299 seats in, it’s 25.7% SPD (up 5.2% since the 2017 election), 24.1% CDU/CSU (down 8.9%), 14.8% Greens (up 5.8%), 11.5% FDP (up 0.7%), 10.3% AfD (down 2.3%) and 4.9% Left (down 4.3%). The overall right-wing parties win by a narrow 45.9-45.4 margin over the left-wing parties.

10:15am 279 of 299 seats in, and it’s 25.8% SPD (up 5.3%), 24.4% CDU/CSU (down 9.0%), 14.2% Greens (up 5.5%), 11.5% FDP (up 0.8%), 10.5% AfD (down 2.2%) and 4.6% Left (down 4.2%). So the overall right is beating the overall left by 46.4-44.6, contrary to pre-election polls. A Red-Red-Green (SPD, Left, Green) coalition is out.

9am 248 of 299 seats in, and it’s 25.7% SPD (up 5.2%), 24.7% CDU/CSU (down 8.8%), 14.0% Greens (up 5.5%), 11.5% FDP (up 0.7%), 10.7% AfD (down 2.3%) and 4.6% Left (down 4.2%). Vote shifts are matched against the results from the same seats in 2017.

8:47am The Left party has dropped to 4.9% (below the 5% threshold) in an updated projection, but is set to win three FPTP seats, enough to get a proportional allocation of seats.

8:15am With 201 of 299 seats in, current vote shares are 25.2% CDU/CSU (down 8.8% using seat matched data from 2017), 25.7% SPD (up 5.1%), 13.8% Greens (up 5.4%), 11.4% FDP (up 0.8%), 10.5% AfD (down 2.3%) and 4.4% Left (down 4.1%).

7:57am With 184 of 299 seats in, the SPD is up 5.0% and the Greens up 5.4%, but the Left is down 4.1%, putting them on pace now for a final 5.1%. The FW party has faded back to 3.1%, so won’t enter parliament.

6:58am After 65 of 299 FPTP seats, it’s a 5.0% gain for the SPD and a 4.3% gain for the Greens but a 3.7% loss for the Left. Subtracting 3.7% from the Left’s 9.2% in 2017 gives them 5.5%. Another party has 4.5% of the party list vote. It takes 5% of the list vote or 3 of 299 FPTP seats to enter parliament.

6:40am 30 of the 299 FPTP seats have now reported their final results. It’s important to look at the swing from 2017. In second vote share, the SPD is up 3.8%, the Greens up 4.2% and the Left down 3.4%. The Left won 9.2% in 2017, so this would be enough, but they’re likely to fall further when results from areas where they were strong in 2017 come through.

6:10am Monday Contrary to pre-election polls, projections from exit polls and partial results show the overall vote for right-wing parties leading the left vote by 47.5-45.0. Furthermore, the Left party is at the 5% threshold. If they fall below that threshold, they need to win at least three of 299 FPTP seats to get a proportional allocation of seats. I believe they’re currently losing two of their existing five FPTP seats.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The German election is today, with polls closing at 2am Monday AEST. I believe it will take until Monday afternoon AEST to have final results. To qualify for a proportional allocation of seats, parties must either win at least 5% of the vote, or three of the 299 first past the post seats. Owing to overhang and levelling seats, the total size of parliament is to be determined, but all qualifying parties will be allocated a proportional share of seats.

The Guardian’s poll aggregate gives the centre-left SPD 25.3%, the conservative CDU/CSU 22.4%, the Greens 15.7%, the pro-business FDP 11.4%, the far-right AfD 10.8% and the far-left Left 6.2%. That’s an overall left lead of 47.2-44.6, a tightening from 47.7-44.0 last week. Individual late polls have the overall left ahead by between 0.5 and 4 points.

Official results will be available at this link. There are two points that may cause confusion. These results will give the “first” and “second” votes. The first vote is the local member vote, and it is the second vote that is far more important in determining the seats each party is entitled to; the 5% threshold applies to the second vote. The CDU and CSU will be listed separately, even though they are effectively the same party, like the Liberals and Nationals in Australia. The CSU runs only in Bavaria, the CDU everywhere else.

Upcoming US crucial votes in Congress

Democrats hold the US House of Representatives by a 220-212 margin with three vacancies. In the Senate, it’s a 50-50 tie with Vice President Kamala Harris having the casting vote. However, to pass the Senate, most legislation requires 60 votes to shut down a filibuster. Special legislation can be passed with a simple majority using “reconciliation”. This can only be used for legislation related to the budget, not for eg, voting rights reforms.

In the next week, there are likely to be votes in the House on a bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIB) and a Democratic infrastructure bill (DIB). The BIB earlier passed the Senate with a filibuster-proof majority. The DIB has not passed either chamber yet, and can only get through using reconciliation. Left-wing and centrist Democrats have had disagreements over these bills.

The US budget for the current year expires on Friday AEST, and appropriation bills must be passed by then to prevent a shutdown. The debt limit must be raised by sometime in October to prevent an economic disaster.

Democrats have put the debt limit increase in a bill to fund the government, but it has no chance of passing the Senate with Republicans opposed. Democrats are likely to decouple the debt limit increase from the government funding, which Republicans say they will not oppose. But the debt limit still needs to be raised, likely using reconciliation. Republicans are opposing the debt limit increase as Democrats are likely to be blamed if it goes wrong, as they control the presidency, House and Senate.

Final Canadian results

At the September 20 Canadian election, the Liberals won 159 of the 338 seats (up two since 2019), the Conservatives 119 (down two), the Quebec Bloc 33 (up one), the NDP 25 (up one) and the Greens two (down one). Vote shares were 33.7% Conservative (down 0.7%), 32.6% Liberal (down 0.5%), 17.8% NDP (up 1.8%), 7.7% Bloc (up 0.1%), 5.0% People’s Party (up 3.3%) and 2.3% Greens (down 4.2%).

Despite losing the popular vote by 1.1%, the Liberals won 40 more seats than the Conservatives. A key reason was the most populous province of Ontario, where the Liberals won 78 of the 121 seats to 37 Conservatives on a 4.4% popular vote lead. The Liberals utterly dominated Canada’s big cities: to see this zoom in on Toronto in Ontario or Montreal in Quebec on the CBC’s results map.

65 comments on “German election live”

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  1. “Put $5 on Red-Red-Green in Germany.”


    That’s the outcome I’m hoping for too. Full on left wing government. Lets hope the three of them have the numbers to get it done. We won’t know who will form the government today (there will be lots of negotiations to come as there always in with a hung parliament) but we will know what the possible options are once we know where each party stands.

  2. Adrian:

    Do you know whether postal votes are counted at the same time as the votes from polling booths or later? Just wondering because my German-dwelling daughter mentioned to me earlier in the week that there had been quite a steady move to pre-polling because Covid is still very prevalent in certain areas. If matters are very tight might the results take a little longer to emerge?

  3. My working life took me to Cologne and Wuppertal for a week or two pretty much every year from 1990 onwards, and I developed a real affection for Germany and the Germans over those years, so I’m really interested in what direction Germany will now take. The opinion polls have been very stable over a period of several months, so we pretty much know what the party votes will be. The big question is what will be the governing coalition?

    No-one will work with AfD, that’s clear. So a government solely of the right is impossible. I think we’ll also see die Linke frozen out, or at least I hope so. These guys are the remnants of the old Communist party of East Germany, plus a few far left people from the SPD, and they have very little support outside the eastern Lander. Their economic, migration and security policies (like dissolving NATO and cooperating with Russia and China) are nuts-they’d poison any SPD/Green coalition they joined. On the other hand, the German Greens have relatively sane policy positions and would be a reasonable partner for the SPD.

    Surely the SPD, as the largest party, have to be part of the coalition! It’s hard to see CDU/FDP/Greens being viable! But if the SPD partner with the Greens, how could the CDU or FDP live in the same coalition? Does SPD/CDU/FDP, or SPD/CDU with SPD as the senior partner, make more sense? It’s going to be challenging to build a stable coalition with a coherent set of policies, given the building blocks available.

  4. Here’s some of the possible options based on polling from a few days ago.

    I think the most likely is either R2G or Traffic Light. If the Greens and SPD are really close to a majority they may rather have Die Linke (so R2G) just to add that little bit extra, rather than take on a larger party that might demand more. If it were R2G then the two large parties would be able to keep Die Linke in check if needed. But they’re not really the bogeyman that the right try to make them out to be. Also, Die Linke has most of it’s support in the East where some Germans are turning to the far-right. Giving them representation via Die Linke may help stem the flow to the right as it will give some of those disillusioned voters someone to turn to in government and make them feel like they have a voice.

    The polls are open and live coverage has started on DW from Berlin (link in post above above).

  5. It appears the Germans voting process is very similar to ours.. voter roll, mark-off & stuff paper ballot in the box.
    If only the yanks had as simple a system..

  6. Going by that chart, the broad left coalition looks like the one most likely to not make 50%, along with the current grand coalition. It’ll be a mess.

    Saxony-Anhalt is an interesting little case study. It’s a former East German state which has had just about every possible type of coalition over the last 30 years:

    1990: CDU/FDP
    1994: minority SPD/Green, supported by PDS (forerunner of the Left)
    1998: minority SPD, supported by PDS
    2002: CDU/FDP
    2006: CDU/SPD
    2011: CDU/SPD
    2016: CDU/SPD/Green
    2021: CDU/SPD/FDP

    The traditional black/yellow coalition hasn’t had the numbers since 2006, and even the grand coalition hasn’t since 2016. (AfD and the Left got 40% between them in 2016.) For all that chopping and changing, the CDU have had just two leaders over 19 years of government. I guess it’s more stable than it looks. (If we had a Lib/ALP/Grn coalition here, it sure as hell wouldn’t last five years.)

    Rhineland-Palatinate got a traffic light coalition (SPD/Green/FDP) in 2016, and kept it in 2021, so that seems to have worked too.

  7. Canada:

    So, end of the day, it’s more or less the same as before. Liberals, NDP and BQ in marginally better positions, Conservatives and Greens marginally worse.

    So, obviously the first leader to be criticised is Trudeau. As I said in the other thread, this would be a fine result in a regularly scheduled election but, as this was a snap election two years early that was called because he believed the Liberals could win back a majority government, it’s definitely not a positive result for him and there will be (in fact there are) people who are asking him what the point of it was. That said, the results could have been a lot worse for them, so I don’t think that he’s going to suffer too much backlash. If the Liberals were a few dozen seats behind and they managed to get back in by scraping together some rainbow coalition, then it’d be a pyrrhic victory for him but, for now, they’ll have stability and aren’t terminal.

    Singh has himself been the focus of a lot of criticism within his own party. A lot of NDP members are getting frustrated that the party’s resources are being put into boosting his national profile, rather than into the party’s infrastructure and groundwork, especially as the returns haven’t been great.

    O’Toole is probably the big loser. While events of the last week hurt the Conservatives and were a little beyond his control, the Tories were expected to hit the government hard and, if they didn’t win, at least left the Trudeau government in a weak position, held together by the shakiest of coalitions. He failed to deliver anything like that. O’Toole has stood his ground as an unapologetic moderate, insisting that the party needs to stay close to the centre to remain competitive in Canada. This has put him at odds with many others in his party who are further to the right. Unfortunately for him, his pitch is entirely based on electability – which gets undermined by him failing to be electable (or have a noteworthy result at least.)

    Furthermore, the far right PPC saw a reasonable gain in their vote and definitely acted as spoilers, so the more right wing members of the party might start making the case that centrist electability is a myth and they can’t push away their conservative voters to the PPC, spoiling their results.* I guess what I am saying is I wouldn’t be surprised if O’Toole isn’t around at the next election.

    *Of course, as it has been said on this site a million times, the issue of spoilers (left or right) could be solved (or at least softened) by implementing IRV. At this point though, it feels like beating a dead horse.


    Nothing much to say. Looking forward to the results. Hoping for something that ends up with a red-green Coalition (preferably without the need for the black.) In my perfect world, Baerbock is the next Chancellor but, realistically speaking, Scholz is an acceptable consolation. Anybody but Laschet!

  8. “Hoping for something that ends up with a red-green Coalition (preferably without the need for the black.) In my perfect world, Baerbock is the next Chancellor but, realistically speaking, Scholz is an acceptable consolation. Anybody but Laschet!”


    The Greens and SPD have both indicated they are keen to form government together and both think the CDU needs to go into opposition. If that happens then Baerbock should become the Vice Chancellor. Now that would be awesome. Lets hope the left get the numbers to make that happen. Who the third party will be who knows?

  9. Bird of paradox says:
    Sunday, September 26, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    ….For all that chopping and changing, the CDU have had just two leaders over 19 years of government. I guess it’s more stable than it looks. (If we had a Lib/ALP/Grn coalition here, it sure as hell wouldn’t last five years.)

    The Greens have been been running Labor-hostile polemics for a quarter of century. They are on a ticket of fundamental unity of purpose with the LNP and have been ever since the rise of Howard.

  10. “The Greens have been been running Labor-hostile polemics for a quarter of century. They are on a ticket of fundamental unity of purpose with the LNP and have been ever since the rise of Howard.”


    Wrong thread, Comrade. Es sind die Grünen!

  11. “Rhineland-Palatinate got a traffic light coalition (SPD/Green/FDP) in 2016, and kept it in 2021, so that seems to have worked too.”


    The government of Berlin is currently a full left R2G/RRG coalition, so that shows that the two large parties of the left are ok with working with Die Linke.

    Really enjoying watching the DW coverage, which should start getting into the rolling election coverage in the next couple of hours. It’s great to be able to watch a local German produced broadcast from Berlin but in full English.

  12. Briefly, either comment on the topic, or bugger off back to the main thread. If you’re only here to howl the same lunacy you always do, we neither want nor need you here.

  13. Tom the 1st:

    Will the South Schleswig Voters` Association get a seat?

    This just reminded me of something funny. Head to the German version of Wiki, look up that state’s last election, then let Chrome offer to automagically translate it into English. Look at the party abbreviations on the right (under the pie chart): SSW has somehow become “Week of pregnancy”.

    Reason why: “South Schleswig Voters’ Association” translates to “Südschleswigscher Wählerverband”, or SSW as a German acronym. (SPD is a bit counterintuitive for the same reason: it’s Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, not Social Democratic Party.)

    Meanwhile, “week of pregnancy” translates to = “Schwangerschaftswoche”. “Woche” = “week”. “Schwanger” = “pregnant”, and the extra “-schaft” = “-cy”. Wanna turn a noun into an adjective? That’ll be an extra six letters, thanks.

    “Schwanger schafts woche” = SSW. Easy!

    (God knows where the extra “s” comes from. It can’t be “pregnancies”, that’d be “schwangerschaften”. German’s a weird language sometimes.)

    Also, I just learnt the German word for contraceptives: “schwangerschaftsverhütungsmittel”. 32 letters short… just rolls off the tongue!


    (The SSW won’t win a seat, though. They’re only exempted from the 5% rule in state parliament because they’re a Danish minority party – the rules got bent around them after WW2.)

  14. Looks as if the German right have held on. Probably relying on a coalition with the Pro Business Party and the Greens. SDP the bride’s maids again.

  15. I think we might see a Kenya coalition. The FDP was been less keen on being in coalition with the SPD and Greens than even the CDU. So a Traffic light might be out of the question.
    It could be a Kenya Coalition without the CSU who seem to be almost splitting from the CDU at times.

  16. Also regardless of who wins between SPD and CDU, the Greens might be in power, since their numbers will be needed. This assumes neither side will coalition with the AfD as promised.

  17. Check out Thuringia (strong Left state, or at least used to be). CDU getting swatted, Left also well down, SPD and Green up, and it looks like AfD have won four FPP seats. 4 AfD – 2 SPD – 1 CDU – 1 not up yet.

    That website could be so much easier to use.

  18. Olaf Storbeck
    No matter what will happen tonight – the CDU/CSU’s election results is by far the worst in 72 years of post-war German history. So far, the worst results was in 1949 (31%)

  19. Olaf Scholz (SPD) has won the wonderfully-named Potsdam – Potsdam-Mittelmark II – Teltow-Fläming II, over Baerbock (Green). Both parties well up, Left and CDU down again.

    Why would two parties’ lead candidates run for the same FPP seat? They’ll both get elected off the list, so it’s not like one party gets decapitated.

    And… are Germany competing with Canada for who can have the longest, most hyphenated name for a seat? 😛

  20. Ven, I said in the preview posted yesterday that first votes are the local member votes, second votes are the party list votes that determine how many seats parties are entitled to. Second votes are far more important.

  21. First vote is for your local electorate, which is FPTP. Second vote is for your preferred party-which could be different from your local electorate vote. At the end of the counting, parties with less than 5% of the second vote are excluded from the second vote tally, unless they won a minimum 3 seats on the first vote. Additional candidates from party lists are then added to those elected on the first vote, so that the proportion of party representatives in the new parliament matches the proportion of eligible party second votes in the election. I think it’s pretty close to the system used in NZ. The second vote percentage by party is the thing to watch.

    The far left party (die Linke) looks in danger of not reaching 5%. I don’t know if they’ll get 3 first vote seats-as they are the residue of the East German communist party, they still have some strength in the eastern states.

  22. Looks like die Linke will make it into parliament, as they’ve won 2 seats in Berlin and one in Leipzig. But you can scratch SPD/Green/die Linke as a potential coalition, if my maths is right. That combination won’t have a majority in the parliament.

  23. I think the Left might have another in Dresden

    Greens have picked up quite a few constituency seats which is odd to see outside Berlin and Baden.

  24. And so far federally, no party has done a deal with die Linke. Not quite as toxic as AfD but still “forbidden”. So if they weren’t to make the grade it would be better for SPD/Green coalition.

  25. Bird of paradox says:
    Monday, September 27, 2021 at 1:24 am

    Briefly, either comment on the topic, or bugger off back to the main thread. If you’re only here to howl the same lunacy you always do, we neither want nor need you here.

    I was merely responding to your (naturally quite gratuitous) remarks, Bird. I feel quite at liberty to continue to do so. You are not the blog monitor, much as you might wish to be. Here. Have an apple.

    The interesting element of the results so far appear to be that sometime-CDU voters have moved to the SPD, and voters from the (very ideologically divided) Left have gravitated to the Greens.

    There is certainly a vote for change in Germany…but perhaps not that much change. The SPD and the Greens together will not have the numbers to govern. The Left will not make up the difference. So who will form the Government? It looks like the FDP – nearly obliterated not long ago – will be the third voice.

    Once again it will largely fall to the SPD to be the marshal of modernity.

  26. With the constituency seats being first past the post it’s showing some strange results. Example Saxony, these seats are being picked up by AfD with little change in their vote. CDU vote is down but SPD is not high enough to overcome the AfD. They’ve won a swag of seats standing still.

  27. The CDU/CSU party vote is down quite a lot compared to their constituency vote, while for the FDP it’s the reverse. Maybe some unhappy conservative voters looking to punish CDU/CSU, but switching to the liberal pro-business FDP rather than jumping all the way to one of the left parties? Happily no-one is jumping to AfD, they’ve lost about 20% of their party vote. In fact both the far left and the far right have lost a lot of support, which is great!

    You’d have to think that SDP/Green/FDP has a good chance of emerging as the governing coalition. There will be big differences on things like taxation policy, and transport policy-things like autobahn speed limits and trains versus planes for long-distance travel, who knows how that will get sorted out. But CDU/CSU have had a terrible result, and could do with a spell as the opposition.

  28. Interesting to see the biggest swing FPTP seat that the Greens picked up in Germany was in Aachen, with a 20.8% swing
    This was the city where Laschet and Merkel held their final pre-poll rally according to Politico EU

    Looks like Aachen is right in some of the major flood affected zones from July and August, bordering Belgium and the Netherlands

    Greens GAIN Aachen I (FPTP seat) from CDU

    First votes
    GRN: 30.2% (+20.8)
    CDU: 25.6% (-8.1)
    SPD: 23.8% (-8.7)
    FDP: 7.9% (-0.6)
    LEFT: 4.4% (-4.4)
    AfD: 3.8% (-2.2)
    OTH: 3.7%

  29. Fascinating result, the parliament is going to be so fragmented with so many different voices. Great gains for the Greens which will put them in a very strong position to be part of the government.

    Looks like the FDP will be needed as the third party. Die Linke let the team down as far as R2G goes, they’re right on the edge at 5% which isn’t enough.

    Huge losses for the CDU, they have clearly lost their mandate as far as I’m concerned. A Traffic Light coalition looks like the most likely now unless they go the much larger Kenya option. A GroKo of CDU/SPD may not even make it to 50% (they’re a fraction under it combined right now).

    There’s going to be some serious wheeling and dealing and negotiations all over the shop now. If I were the Greens I’d be making the Vice Chancellorship one of the conditions for their support (it should go to the second largest party in the coalition anyway).

    Great to see the AfD go backwards and continue to be shunned by the rest of them. Got to give the CDU a bit of credit for drawing a line in the sand and refusing to work with them even though they are both to the right of centre.

    Some really huge swings to the Greens in some areas. Here are some but check out @Greens_Elects on Twitter for a heap more results.

  30. “1:08pm With all 299 seats in, it’s 25.7% SPD (up 5.2% since the 2017 election), 24.1% CDU/CSU (down 8.9%), 14.8% Greens (up 5.8%), 11.5% FDP (up 0.7%), 10.3% AfD (down 2.3%) and 4.9% Left (down 4.3%). The overall right-wing parties win by a narrow 45.9-45.4 margin over the left-wing parties.”


    Great night for the Greens and SPD; only small gains for the FDP but they’re in with a good shot of being the third party now; the AfD is in decline and remains irrelevant as far as forming government is concerned; while it was a bit of a shocker for both Die Linke and the CDU/CSU.

    The great thing is that we can take the AfD’s 10% off the overall right’s vote as far as forming the coalition goes. Since nobody will work with them, the left has the advantage in forming government. That combined with the SPD’s lead over the CDU should hopefully see a Green/SPD/FDP Traffic Light coalition after all is said and done. In such a case the left (Greens and SPD) would clearly control the government by ~ 40-11%.

  31. Adrian or anyone who knows – I know that in the end the number of first-vote (FPTP) seats doesn’t matter because now the God Proportionality takes over, but I’d still be interested to know – how many first-vote seats did each party win?

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