Germany votes to pave way for first government of post-Merkel era

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Germans were voting on Sunday to decide the political direction of Europe’s biggest economy, after nearly 16 years under Chancellor Angela Merkel. Some 60,000 polling stations opened at 8 am (0600 GMT). The three candidates to replace Merkel, Armin Laschet of the conservative CDU, Olaf Scholz of the centre-left SPD and Annalena Baerbock of the Greens – all cast their ballots in the first half of the day. The pivotal elections are the SPD’s to lose after the party’s unexpected, but steady, rise to the top of the polls. Scholz, 63, who has worked closely with Merkel as her finance minister durin…

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