Germany votes, Laschet makes ‘first big mistake’ right away

The first startling moment of the German elections comes to the CDUs stiff candidate, Armin Laschet. He folded his dialing form incorrectly, making his choice visible on the outside.

Consciously or unconsciously, photographers present were able to capture what his choice โ€” the CDU, of course โ€” was. A political commentator from the BILD newspaper calls it โ€œthe first truly major electoral error of this voting day.โ€

Largest EU country

In Germany, polling stations opened Sunday morning for the parliamentary elections that usher in the end of Chancellor Angela Merkels government period. Some 60.4 million voters have to decide which party will have to say in the EU country with the largest population and the largest economy.

47 parties participate in the elections, a number which, according to German media, has not been seen since Germanys reunification. In addition, 33 percent of candidates are women and that is also a record.

Two men

The two main contenders to succeed divorcing Chancellor Angela Merkel are men. Her party mate Armin Laschet, the CDU leader and state prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz of the centre-left SPD lead their parties in the polls.

Both top candidates voted. CDU foreman Laschet voted near his home in Aachen, a town near the border with the Netherlands, where he made the folding mistake, and SPDer Scholz went to the polling station in his hometown Potsdam.

Face mask refusals Municipalities

in North Rhine-Westphalia bordering the Netherlands take into account people who vote without a mask in the German elections. For example, people who dont want to cover their mouths and nose in Cologne get the opportunity to cast a vote outside, reports German media.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, it has been stipulated that people should wear a medical face mask in polling stations in principle to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, the state authorities also stress that everyone should be given the opportunity to cast a vote.

Municipalities are opting for a wide range of solutions to implement that policy. In Essen, for example, a polling room can be temporarily emptied so that someone can vote without a mask. The room is then ventilated and disinfected. In Aachen and Duisburg, voters can get a face mask at the polling station.

Exitpolls

Election attendance in Germany is traditionally high compared to other countries. In the 2017 parliamentary election, more than 76 percent of voters voted. This year, due to the corona pandemic, a record number of postal votes will be counted.

Germans can vote until 6pm. Exit polls are expected immediately after. The SPD went very well in the polls shortly before the election, but the conservative bloc of sister parties CDU/CSU had approached the party to a few percentage points.

The final winner is not expected to get enough seats to rule alone. That means that a coalition has to be formed with at least one and probably two other political parties.

What course does Germany choose after sixteen years of Angela Merkel? Thijs Wolters discusses that with Germany correspondent Rob Savelberg in the new Cceit podcast Worlds!