German Finance Minister and SPD candidate for chancellor Olaf Scholz talks to journalists during the Social Democratic Party (SPD) election event in Berlin, Germany, on Sunday. Photo by Focke Strangmann/EPA-EFE
Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The left-leaning Social Democratic Party has narrowly beaten outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union in Germany's federal election, according to official preliminary results posted early Monday.
The Federal Returning Office said SPD earned 25.7% of the vote to CDU's 24.1% with the Green Party coming in third with 14.8%. The turnout for the election was 76.6% of eligible voters.
The result gives the SPD 206 seats in the 735-seat Parliament, an increase of 53 from the 2017 election while CDU's 151 seats represents a drop of 49.
As it secured far fewer than the 398 seats needed to form a majority government, the SPD will now seek to cobble together a coalition government.
SPD leader and German finance minister Olaf Scholz told his supporters as votes were being tabulated that the result was a "great success," CNN reported.
"Many citizens have put their crosses next to the SPD because they want there to be a change in government and also because they want the next chancellor of this country to be called Olaf Scholz," the 63-year-old said.
The election result means that Germany will for the first time in 16 years have a chancellor other than Merkel who had announced she would not be running for re-election.
Armin Laschet, the 60-year-old governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, was voted in January to replace Merkel as head of the CDU, and he told his supporters that the party is not content with the result.
"We can foresee that there could be a government with three parties," he said, adding that they will "do everything to try to build a coalition."