The polls have now closed in Germany, where voters have been casting their ballots for a new Parliament, which will ultimately determine who succeeds Chancellor Angela Merkel at the helm of the European Union’s most populous democracy after 16 years in office.
Early exit polls throughout the day have suggested a very tight race between Ms. Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union and the center-left Social Democrats. Most have showed the Social Democrats slightly ahead, but in at least one the Christian Democrats had the edge. A couple had them tied.
Exit polling in this election is complicated by the fact that about four in ten voters have already mailed in their ballots.
The first returns are expected within a couple of hours, although a final result may not be known until Monday.
In a sign that the closest election in years was mobilizing voters, turnout was expected to surpass the 76 percent recorded in 2017, when the last national elections were held.
“It’s a nail biter,” said Andrea Römmele, dean of the Hertie School in Berlin.