The centre-left Social Democrats led by Olaf Scholz narrowly defeated Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in Sunday's vote to decide her successor, preliminary results showed. The result marked a historic low for the CDU, in one of the most unpredictable elections in Europe's biggest economy in recent decades. Follow our live blog below for all the latest developments.
15:50 Paris time
The German electoral authorities won't make the results of the election until Friday October 15 at the earliest. The SPD currently hold 206 seats in the Bundestag, the CDU have just 151, the Greens have 118 members and the FDP 92.
14:49 Paris time
Armin Laschet, party chief of the CDU, said he was ready to head a coalition government, saying that "no party" – not even the Social Democracts – could claim a mandate to govern from Sunday's vote outcome.
He reiterated that the CDU was ready for talks with the Greens and the liberal FDP for a possible partnership.
The conservatives sunk to a historic low of 24.1 percent in Sunday's vote, the first time they have scored below 30 percent, a touch below the SPD's 25.7 percent.
13:58am Paris time
Transgender women win seats in German parliament
Two Green politicians have made history by becoming the first transgender women to win seats in the Bundestag, the German parliament.
Tessa Ganserer and Nyke Slawik stood for the "Grünen" party, which came third in the election and is set to play a pivotal role in the building of a new three-way coalition government.
"It is a historic victory for the Greens, but also for the trans-emancipatory movement and for the entire queer community," Ganserer, 44, told Reuters, adding that the results were a symbol of an open and tolerant society.
13.30am Paris time
'Traffic-light' or 'Jamaica'?
Will it be a red-green-yellow alliance, known as the "traffic-light" coalition, or a black-green-yellow one, named after the Jamaican flag? Our international affairs editor Armen Georgian talks us through Germany's colour-coded politics.
12:25am Paris time
Scholz promises continuity in transatlantic relations
A government led by Olaf Scholz would offer the United States continuity in transatlantic relations, the SPD leader has told reporters.
"The transatlantic partnership is of essence for us in Germany and for a government that will be led by me. So you can rely on continuity in this question," said the SPD's candidate for chancellor.
"It is important that we understand ourselves as democracies and that we see that in a world that is becoming more dangerous it is important that we work together, even if we do have conflicts in one or the other question," Scholz added.
11:30am Paris time
After Merkel era, a plunge into the unknown
With approval ratings as high as 80 percent, Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves office with support that leaders across the world can only envy. But her popularity wasn't enough to lead her conservative bloc to victory on Sunday.
Below, German journalist Leo Klimm takes a look at what a post-Merkel Germany might look like and what lessons French politicians could learn ahead of presidential elections next year.
10:53am Paris time
CDU-CSU union drops below 31% for first time
Sunday's results mark the first time the CDU and its Bavarian partner, the CSU, have dropped below 31 percent in a nationwide election. Preliminary results give them just 24.1 percent, behind the Social Democrats on 25.7 percent.
The Greens took 14.8 percent, the Free Democrats (FDP) 11.5 percent and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) 10.3 percent – a decline from the 12.6 percent it took to enter parliament for the first time in 2017. The smallest party in the new parliament is the Left Party, which won just 4.9 percent of the vote.
9:35am Paris time
SPD’s Scholz claims mandate to form coalition with Greens and FDP
SPD leader Olaf Scholz has claimed a mandate to form a government with the Greens and the pro-business FDP, signaling his preferred partners in what would be Germany’s first three-way ruling coalition. The Social Democrat said German voters had told the conservative CDU/CSU of outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel that it was time to go to the opposition after 16 years in power.
"The voters have very clearly spoken. They said who should form the next government," Scholz said. "They strengthened three parties – the Social Democrats, Greens and FDP – and therefore that is the clear mandate that the citizens of this country have given: These three should form the next government."
Below, FRANCE 24's François Picard reflects on the challenges facing a so-called "traffic-light coalition" (red-green-yellow) between the three parties.
8:59am Paris time
Paris mayor congratulates SPD leader
Anne Hidalgo, the Paris mayor and likely Socialist Party candidate in next year's French presidential election, has expressed her support for the SPD's Olaf Sholz, whom she "hopes" will be the next German chancellor.
Hidalgo praised the German Social Democrats for having overturned a deficit in the polls by running a progressive campaign. She notably singled out the party's pledge to raise the minimum wage and push for a transition to a greener economy.
7:47am Paris time
Pro-business FDP returns to potential kingmaker role
Eight years after losing all its seats in parliament, the resurgent FDP is poised to recover its role as the traditional kingmaker of German politics after taking 11.5 percent of the vote, according to preliminary official results, making it a likely partner in a future three-way alliance.
FDP leader Christian Lindner has signalled a preference for a "Jamaica" coalition with the CDU-CSU and the Greens – named after those parties' black, green and yellow colours – but has not ruled out a "traffic light" constellation with the SPD and the Greens.
Lindner has suggested speeding up the process by sitting down first with the Greens, who are hardly natural bedfellows for the FDP, before talking with the two bigger parties.
7:15am Paris time
SPD’s Scholz to start sounding out potential coalition partners
The Social Democrats' chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz has said he hopes to strike a coalition deal before Christmas, although his conservative rival Armin Laschet claims he could still try to form a government despite coming in second. Under German election rules, the party that comes first is not guaranteed a role in the next government if other parties have a better chance of forming a coalition.
The parties will start sounding each other out on Monday about possible alliances in informal discussions. In order to secure a majority in parliament, the SPD is likely to seek a three-way alliance with the Greens and the FDP, although the two parties could also team up with the conservatives.
5:15am Paris time
Preliminary official results: SPD leads with 25.7%, CDU/CSU at 24.1%
Germany’s Federal Returning Officer (Bundeswahlleiter) has published the first preliminary results from the German elections, with results from all 299 constituencies. The results track closely with the latest exit polls, giving the social democratic SPD a clear but narrow lead of 1.6 points (775,812 votes) over the conservative CDU-CSU. Both parties remain far from a majority, however, which could spell lengthy talks as each seeks to convince potential partners to join its side and form a governing coalition.
SPD: 25.7% (+5.2 since 2017)
CDU-CSU: 24.1% (-8.9)
Greens: 14.8% (+5.8)
FDP: 11.5% (+0.7)
AfD: 10.3% (-2.3)
Die Linke: 4.9% (-4.3)