Germany election: Angela Merkel's party has been castigated in the polls - and CDU activists are not happy

26 September 2021, 19:25 | Updated: 27 September 2021, 05:15

It has not been a great election for outgoing leader Angela Merkel's own party, the right of centre CDU.

Its candidate Armin Lashet was castigated in the polls, caught on camera laughing as the country's president made a speech after the country's devastating floods.

But they had hoped for better, especially after a rally in the polls in the final leg of this contest.

Preliminary results show Merkel's party has been defeated.

Her CDU/CSU bloc won 24% of the vote, but the SPD social democrats claimed nearly 26%, according to broadcaster ARD.

Both will now try to form a coalition government.

Merkel's party should have done better. Its chancellor has completed 16 years in power and is one of the most popular politicians in German history. Yet her party has not been rewarded by voters.

As CDU activists took consolation in large servings of German lager in the Berlin bar R 23, the period of reflection was already beginning. For some, the problem was the candidate or how voters perceived him on the doorstep.

Regional party organiser Christophe Lehmann told Sky News the problem was the candidate.

He said: "We had to drive against the wind."

"Because many people didn't understand why we picked Laschet. Voters were not convinced."

Former member of Berlin parliament Cordula Kollotschek told Sky News, Laschet is not political box office but that wasn't the only problem.

"He has not the charisma, he's not really a star, he is not really good looking in the media - that's really important in a time like now but also I don't think we have the answer especially for young people for things like climate change."

On the bar television, coverage continued in almost funereal tones. German political coverage is serious and sombre. Most had drifted away from the screen though, to drink outside on a balmy late summer evening, or head off home.

It's a longer game now, with the haggling and horse-trading over the forming of a coalition.