Germany in political limbo after Social Democrats' narrow win

Germany is headed for weeks, if not months, of protracted coalition haggling as Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives insisted on Sept. 27 on trying to form a government even after losing to the Social Democrats in a tight race.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who led the Social Democrats' (SPD) campaign, said Europe's biggest power would not be thrown off by the power struggle, stressing that Germany would remain "stable" even as parties scramble for coalition partners.

But the country pivotal in shaping Europe's responses on issues from the coronavirus pandemic to relations with Russia and China, risks being put out of play on the international scene for some time, just as the upcoming COP26 climate summit will be demanding action from the world's biggest powers.

Europe's largest economy will also hold the presidency of the G7 club of rich nations next year, and will need a government capable of setting the international agenda.

Washington said on Sept. 26 it hoped to maintain strong relations with Berlin while parties battle to build a new government.

The United States will "await the outcome of negotiations to form the next German government. We also look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Germany on many key issues of mutual concern," said State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter.

Joe Biden's administration has developed close relations Merkel, who suffered open friction with former president Donald Trump

Preliminary official results showed the center-left Social Democrats - junior partners in Merkel's coalition - narrowly won the vote at 25.7 percent, while her center-right CDU-CSU bloc sunk to a historic low of 24.1 percent.

The Green party placed third at 14.8 percent, its...

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