Who will be Germany's next leader?

The exit poll suggests there is no clear winner of Germany's election with Angela Merkel's party eyeing up its worst result in a post-war federal election, reports ITV News Europe Editor James Mates

Well that hasn’t really sorted things out. The German election appears to be a dead-heat, with no clear winner and the prospect of weeks, if not months, of coalition talks ahead.

All that voting, and still no nearer to knowing who is going to be Germany’s next leader.

The headlines are that the centre left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) have done better than before, but not as well as expected. 

The centre-right have done much worse than last time, but better than the polls had indicated. 

And the Greens have had the best result in their history and may get to be a significant part of the next German Government. Or they may not.

And in the meantime – which may be quite a long meantime – Angel Merkel will stay on as chancellor. So hold the ‘goodbyes’ and the political obituaries.

There will have to be a coalition Government. It will probably – for the first time in post-war history – involve three parties rather than just two. 

Either Armin Lashet of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) or Olaf Scholz of the SPD could lead that coalition, depending on who can get the Greens and Liberals onside. 

If neither can, then there will also be the option of going back into coalition with each other, the leader of the bigger party probably taking charge. But we won’t know who that is until Monday morning.

No one ever said that German politics was easy.

And all the while Europe waits, effectively paralysed until a new German leader is installed, just crossing their fingers that – even when we know who that is going to be – they are strong enough at home to be able to act decisively.

It could be an interesting few months.