Germany’s Social Democrats seek pact to replace Merkel-led coalition

BERLIN: Germany's Social Democrats said yesterday they would start the process of trying to forge a three-way alliance and lead a government for the first time since 2005 after they won Sunday's national election.

The Social Democrats' chancellor candidate, Mr Olaf Scholz (right), said he aimed to build a coalition with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), saying Germans had voted to send Dr Angela Merkel's conservatives into opposition after 16 years.

"What you see here is a very happy SPD," Mr Scholz, 63, told cheering supporters at his party's headquarters in Berlin.

"The voters have clearly spoken... They strengthened three parties - the Social Democrats, Greens and FDP - and therefore that is the clear mandate the citizens of this country have given - these three should form the next government."

The SPD won 25.7 per cent of the vote, ahead of 24.1 per cent for Dr Merkel's Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and the Christian Social Union in Bavaria conservative bloc, according to provisional results. The Greens came in at 14.8 per cent and the FDP were on 11.5 per cent.

Mr Scholz, who was finance minister in Dr Merkel's outgoing "grand coalition", said on Sunday he hoped to agree to a coalition before Christmas.

But his CDU rival Armin Laschet, 60, said he could still try to form a government despite leading the conservatives to their worst ever election result. Dr Merkel, who did not seek a fifth term, will stay on in a caretaker role during the coalition negotiations. - REUTERS