The German parliamentary election remains too close to call based on initial exit polls, but there are still some key takeaways.
There doesn't appear to be any major surprises, save for perhaps just how tight things are between the center-left Social Democratic Party and outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union-Christian Social Union alliance. The two are essentially neck-and-neck. Meanwhile, the Green Party looks like it will finish in a clear third.
Whether the CDU finishes in second or ekes out a plurality, it'll be a historically low-showing for the party, which sat somewhere between 10 and 15 percent higher in the past four elections. (Merkel's departure has a lot to do with the decline.) On the flip side, the Greens are primed for their best result ever in a national election, putting them in a good position for whatever governing coalition emerges. The country's far-right party, Alternative for Germany, is on pace for a slight decline compared to their own historic showing in 2017.
Ultimately, there's a lot of uncertainty. Deutsche Welle reports that there are a few possibilities for how things will play out — the Greens and SPD could link up, or the CDU/CSU could join forces with the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats, for instance. No matter what happens, Merkel's replacement won't be elected until a coalition is formed, meaning she'll remain in office in a caretaker role. Read more at Deutsche Welle.