Polls open in Germany to elect new chancellor; SPD, CDU-CSU in tight race
Germans began voting in the national elections on Sunday in a tight race between Social Democrats (SPD) and Merkel's CDU-CSU conservative alliance.
Olaf Scholz is heading the Social Democrat (SPD) while Merkel has backed Armin Laschet of the CDU-CSU.
Merkel had earlier announced she will be stepping down as Chancellor after the polls ending her reign which has lasted for sixteen years as Europe's most powerful economy enters a new phase.
Ahead of the elections, opinion polls suggested the elections were too close to call with Social Democrats just ahead by two points against the CDU-CSU alliance.
Experts say the huge number of undecided voters may swing the results with 60 million eligible voters set to exercise their franchise.
Olaf Scholz, 63, is eying the top post even as Merkel's candidate Armin Laschet, 60, has dug for a pitched battle during the election campaign.
Merkel has been in power since 2005, however, the current polls are set to usher in a new leader as Europe emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.
Experts suggest Greens and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) may play a key role if neither the CDU-CSU nor the SPD gain enough seats even though Scholz said he was hoping his party along with the Greens will garner enough support to form the next government.
Scholz said, "The stronger the SPD, the easier it will be to form a coalition," while adding, "I don't know what will be possible but maybe it is possible for example to form an SPD-Greens coalition. I believe it is possible."