Germany election: Katya Adler on importance to US and EU
The BBC Europe editor noted the results of the German election will play a significant role in the future of the European Union and the United States' relationship with the bloc. Angela Merkel will be stepping down after 16 years in power, leaving the door open for change to Germany's global position. Katya Adler said Brussels and Washington will both be monitoring closely any negotiations to select Chancellor Merkel's successor due to the important role the country plays across the continent.
Ms Adler said: "It's important for the EU but Washington is also watching closely, so is Beijing. Half of Europe's trade with China comes through Germany.
"Germany is such an influential nation in Brussels, in EU HQ, very few reforms are going to be possible without the nod from Berlin.
"Berlin also has very close ties with the United States, Angela Merkel really cemented that under Barack Obama for example.
|And that means that this election is being watched as closely outside Germany as inside."
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BBC's Katya Adler noted the German elections will be watched closely in the EU and the US
Katya Adler said Germans will seek to elect a stable successor to Angela Merkel
The BBC editor continued: "The impact of what the next government here looks like will be felt definitely outside Germany's national borders.
"That said, we're looking at change but with a small c here.
"The German people are stability hungry, none of the parties are saying they want to leave the EU or leave NATO, all of them are pro-EU.
"It's different flavours in foreign policy, different flavours in attitudes towards finance. It's not that there's going to be dramatic overnight change in Germany, but the flavor of change will definitely be felt in Brussels and beyond."
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A fractured electorate means that after the election, leading parties will sound each other out before embarking on more formal coalition negotiations that could take months, leaving Chancellor Merkel in a caretaker role.
Candidate Armin Laschet, who already succeeded Mrs Merkel at the helm of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), said on Election Day: "We all sense that this is a very important federal election.
"It is a federal election that will decide the direction of Germany in coming years and therefore every vote counts."
Running against Laschet is Olaf Scholz of the SPD, the finance minister in Angela Merkel's right-left coalition who won all three televised debates between the leading candidates.
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Mr Scholz has seen his party's lead over the conservatives squeezed to 1-3 points in final opinion polls https://tmsnrt.rs/3BiQwWF, leaving Laschet with a chance of clinching a narrow victory.
Speaking to reporters after casting his ballot in Berlin, Mr Scholz said: "I hope that as many citizens as possible will go and vote and make a very strong result for the SPD possible and give me the mandate to become the next chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany."
The election commissioner said turnout stood at 36.5 percent at 2pm local time, down from 41.1 percent in 2017.
The figure does not include postal votes, which are expected to exceed those cast in the 2017 election given the coronavirus pandemic.