Germany election 2021: results and reaction as Merkel era set to end after 16 years – live

Latest updates as SPD and CDU battle it out in neck-and-neck race to become largest party in the Bundestag

3.58pm BST

Voter turnout on the day is slightly down on the previous 2017 vote, the Federal election commissioner has said, with 36.5% of eligible voters casting their ballots nationwide by 2pm local time, compared to 41.1% five years ago.

However, this figure does not include postal votes, which are predicted to reach 40% or even 50% of the total, smashing all previous records. In 2017, nearly 29% of voters mailed their ballot paper in before polling day.

3.32pm BST

Affable but gaffe-prone, CDU leader Armin Laschet – Angela Merkel’s preferred successor as chancellor – blundered again on election day, folding his ballot the wrong way and so revealing to the assembled media which party he had voted for.

His choice was hardly a surprise – Laschet cast both votes for his centre-right party under an election system that allows voters to cast one vote for a representative in the country’s 299 districts, and one for the party they want in parliament.

Unions-Kanzlerkandidat @ArminLaschet hat seinen Stimmzettel beim Einwurf in die Urne so gefaltet, dass seine Wahl nicht geheim erfolgte. Es ist zu sehen, wo er seine Kreuze gemacht hat. Derzeit wird geprüft, ob #Laschet gegen das Wahlgeheimnis verstoßen hat.

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Source: The Guardian