- The election came at a time of strained relations between Germany and the U.S.
- The next German government will have to work closely with the Biden administration if both sides want to smooth tensions.
U.S. President Joe Biden said "I will be darned" after a reporter told him Germany's Social Democratic Party was ahead in the historic election to succeed Angela Merkel.
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.
"They're solid," Biden said of the results when told Sunday the SPD was expected to beat 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%.
Coalition negotiations will now begin but could take weeks or even months.
Sunday's election came 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 tariffs. The U.S. also did not allow European travelers into the country this summer, despite the EU opening its 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.
Daniela Schwarzer, executive director for Europe and Eurasia at Open Society Foundations, said the SPD had a strong group of "quite American-critical people."
"They need to be convinced truly that the trans-Atlantic alliance is something that we, at this point, very urgently need," she told CNBC in Berlin.
She also said the big question is whether the alliance "can now align on a major strategy that is about Western liberal democracy, where the EU is not just forced to adopt American standards but can actually have this role of being a true partner — which means we need to invest more in ourselves, in defense, in technological development and so on."