BERLIN:Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) slightly led in the federal election on Sunday, while its major competitor plunged to a record low after 16 years in office of Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to projections by German public broadcasters.
Projections by public broadcasters ARD and ZDF showed that SPD won 24.9 to 25.6 percent of the votes, based on different polling institutions. The conservative union of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party Christian Social Union (CSU) fell to 24.4 to 24.7 percent.
The results are so tight that both parties believe that they could lead the new federal government.
Olaf Scholz, SPD's chancellor candidate who is also incumbent vice-chancellor and finance minister, received long-time applause from his party on his first public appearance in SPD's headquarters in Berlin after the projections were released.
"I'm happy to see so many here and of course I'm happy about the election result ... Many citizens want that the next Chancellor is Olaf Scholz," he said.
"It's a head-to-head race," said Armin Laschet, minister-president of Nord Rhein-Westphalia and CDU chairman.
The election is of great significance as Merkel will retire after the new government is formed, and Germany will see a new head of government after almost 16 years.