- The election came at a time of strained relations between Germany and the US.
- The next German government will have to work closely with the Biden administration if both sides want to defuse tensions.
US President Joe Biden said “I would be scared” when a reporter told him that Germany’s Social Democratic Party was ahead in a historic election to succeed Angela Merkel.
Biden, who spent the weekend at Camp David, did not know who was projected to win the German vote until he returned to Washington.
“They are solid,” Biden said of the results when told on Sunday that the SPD was expected to defeat Merkel’s conservative coalition, according to Reuters.
Early results on Monday gave the centre-left SPD the largest share of the vote with 25.9%, According to the country’s federal returning officer, Merkel’s right-leaning bloc of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union received 24.1%.
Coalition talks will start now but it may take weeks or even months.
Sunday’s election took place at a time of strained relations between Germany and the US, and the next German government will have to work closely with the Biden administration if both sides want to defuse tensions.
Issues include the US signing a defense contract with Australia, the two countries’ difficult withdrawal from Afghanistan and the lack of a long-term solution to end tariffs. The US also did not allow European travelers into the country this summer, despite the EU opening its doors to US visitors in June.
At the same time, the United States has also opposed Germany’s agreement with Russian energy firm Gazprom for a pipeline that is now complete and pending approval from German regulators.
Daniela Schwarzer, executive director for Europe and Eurasia at the Open Society Foundation, said the SPD had a strong group of “quite American-critical people”.
“They really need to be convinced that the trans-Atlantic alliance is something we need very much at this time,” she told CNBC in Berlin.
She also said that the bigger question is whether the coalition “can now align on a dominant strategy about Western liberal democracy, where the EU is forced to not only adopt American standards, but is actually a This could be the role of being a true partner – which means we need to invest more in ourselves, in defence, in technological development etc.”