Preliminary results Monday showed Germany’s center-left Social Democrats winning the largest share of the vote in national parliamentary elections as parties battle to see who will succeed outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Social Democrats received 25.7% of the vote Sunday, followed by 24.1% for Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union.
State Governor Armin Laschet of the conservative CDU bloc and outgoing Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats are vying to become the leader of Europe’s biggest national economy as Merkel steps down after 16 years as chancellor.
Each said they would be reaching out to smaller parties to try to form a governing coalition with a goal of having a new government in place before the end of the year.
The top targets for support will be the environmentalist Green party, which finished third with 14.8%, and the pro-business Free Democrats who finished fourth with 11.5%.
Merkel will remain in office on a caretaker basis until her successor is chosen.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Agence France Presse.