U.S. President Joe Biden answers questions from reporters after speaking about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines and booster shots in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2021.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
U.S. President Joe Biden said “I will be darned” on Sunday, after a reporter told him the Social Democratic Party was ahead in Germany’s historic federal election.
Biden, who had spent the weekend at Camp David, did not know who was projected to win the German vote until he got back to Washington D.C.
“They’re solid,” Biden said of the results when told the SPD was expected to beat Angela Merkel’s conservative alliance, according to Reuters.
Early results Monday gave the center-left SPD the largest share of the vote with 25.9%, according to the country’s Federal Returning Officer, with Merkel’s right-leaning bloc of the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union getting 24.1% of the vote.
Coalition negotiations will now begin, but could take weeks or even months.
The election comes at a time of strained relations between Germany and the U.S. and the next German government will have to work closely with the Biden administration if both sides want to smooth tensions.
Issues include the U.S. signing a defense contract with Australia, both countries’ difficult withdrawal from Afghanistan and a lack of a long-term solution to end ongoing trade tariffs. The U.S. also did not allow European travelers into the country this summer, despite the EU opening the doors to U.S. visitors in June.
At the same time, the United States has also opposed Germany’s deal with Russian energy firm Gazprom for a pipeline that is now completed and pending approval from German regulators.