Follow the latest developments as Germans vote to return new parliament and decide if Angela Merkel remains chancellor for fourth term.
Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minister, vice chancellor and a leading member of the social democrat SPD, is plainly not expecting his party to pull anything big out of the hat: “It’s not looking good,” he said earlier this afternoon.
Voter turnout by early afternoon stood at 41.1%, the Federal returning officer has said based on a survey of a representative sample of polling stations – fractionally down on the previous election in 2013, when 41.4% of eligible voters had cast their ballots by 2pm.
The figure does not include postal votes. Angela Merkelvoted shortly after 2pm at a polling station near her home in Berlin’s Mitte district with her husband, Joachim Sauer, who shielded both of them with an umbrella against the cold drizzle. The couple smiled and nodded at bystanders and reporters.