Who will become the next chancellor of Germany? We don't know. And it may be a while before we know.
This is the preliminary official final result (from 6 a.m.):
Social Democratic Party (SPD), Olaf Scholz: 25,7 per cent
Christian Democratic Parties (CDU, CSU), Armin Laschet: 24,1
Green Party (Die Grünen): 14,8
The Liberals (FDP): 11,5
Right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD): 10,3
Left-wing party (Die Linke): 4,9
One thing is for sure, the successor of Angla Merkel will be a man: Olaf Scholz (SPD) or Armin Laschet from the Christian Democratic centre-right Union party (CDU/CSU). They were the top candidates of the two strongest parties in this election. But neither of the two parties can decide whether their candidate becomes chancellor. Others will make that decision, namely the two smaller parties, The Liberals (FDP) with their party leader Christian Lindner and the Green Party (Die Grünen) with their co-leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck. They will decide who will become Germany's next chancellor.
Here is why:
Since each party in the German parliament (Bundestag) has already ruled out a coalition with the right-wing party AfD, there are only three coalitions possible:
The continuation of the existing coalition with SPD and CDU/CSU.
Social Democrats (SPD), The Greens (Die Grünen), The Liberals (FDP) or
Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU), The Greens (Die Grünen), The Liberals (FDP)
Neither the SPD nor the Union is interested in the continuation of the coalition government, they have said. For both of the other two possible coalitions, the Liberals and the Greens are necessary. That is why the two smaller parties can sit down and jointly determine their third partner. Problem for them: They have to agree on a common third party. Since the Greens tend towards a coalition with the Social Democrats, and the Liberals are close with the Christian Democrats, it could be a long struggle. How long? Just as an example, after the 2017 federal election, it took a full 171 days until Angela Merkel was re-elected as chancellor (on 18 March 2018).
So it is currently not foreseeable whether there will be an election for a federal chancellor still in 2021. It depends on how quickly the parties agree to start coalition negotiations and how long it will take them. By the way: As long as no new chancellor is elected, Angela Merkel will stay in power.
PS: Parliamentary elections were held in another European country this weekend, too. Iceland's ruling left-right coalition strengthened its majority after a national election that, for the first time, saw more women than men elected to parliament (33, coming from 24 in the last election). The current government, with Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir's Left-Green Movement, the conservative Independence Party and the centrist-agrarian Progressive Party, said before the election that they would negotiate continued cooperation if they held their majority.