ELECTION RESULTS FROM GERMANY….Germany’s conservatives have done surprisingly poorly in today’s elections:

The first exit polls from Infratest Dimap put the CDU at 35.5 percent, slightly ahead of the SPD at 34 percent. The liberal Free Democrats, the preferred coalition partner of Angela Merkel’s CDU, had 10.5 percent of the vote while the Greens, the current coalition partner of the SPD, had 8.5 percent. The Left Party were close behind with 7.5 percent.

As recently as six weeks ago the CDU was ahead of SPD by 15+ points in the polls, and they were still ahead by nearly 10 points on the eve of the election (see chart here). A 1.5% victory would be a huge disappointment and, more importantly, will probably not give them enough seats to form a government with their FDP partners. The wild card in all this is the newly formed Left party, a coalition of former communists and SPD supporters unhappy with welfare reforms, which stole votes from both the major parties.

And that, happily, pretty much exhausts my knowledge of German politics. However, if you’re interested in keeping tabs on the vote count, updated results from Deutsche Welle are here.

UPDATE: Preliminary official results show that the election was even closer than the exit polls indicate: CDU won 225 seats to SPD’s 222. It’s anyone’s guess which side will successfully form a government.