BERLIN – German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s government was voted out of office Sunday as conservative challenger Angela Merkel’s party led in parliamentary elections, according to an exit poll.
The exit poll from ZDF public television showed Merkel’s Christian Democrats with 37 percent of the vote and Schroeder’s Social Democrats with 33 percent. However, the Christian Democrats’ showing was worse than expected and made it uncertain they would win a majority with their preferred coalition partners, the pro-business Free Democrats, and make Merkel the nation’s first female chancellor.
The vote centered on different visions of Germany’s role in the world and how to fix its sputtering economy. Schroeder touted the country’s role as a European leader and counterbalance to America, while Merkel pledged to reform the moribund economy and repair ties with Washington.