Sunday, September 27, 1998 Published at 19:13 GMT 20:13 UK
Kohl's long reign ends
Gerhard Schröder - the dream is realised
According to the latest computer estimates, his Social Democratic Party got 42.1% of the vote compared with 34.4% for Kohl's conservative Christian Democratic alliance.
Mr Shröder and the SDP leader Oskar Lafontaine have already met with the Greens parliamentary leader Joschka Fischer.
According to projections, the Greens had 6.7% of the vote, the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) - the junior partner in the ruling coalition - 6.5%.
Germany's reform communist Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) scored 5.1%, meaning it has passed the 5% mark necessary to return to parliament.
But it appears too early to tell if Mr Schröder will lead a left-leaning coalition with the Greens or a so-called "grand coalition" with the CDU.
Blair welcomes centre-left victory
Despite scattered showers around the country, turnout was high, at 1600 (1400 GMT) running at 61% compared with 59% at the same time in the elections in 1994.
Voters turned out in especially large numbers in the economically ailing east which pollsters had said before the vote had turned against the Chancellor after backing him strongly in the two previous Bundestag elections since reunification in 1990.
Winning the new centre
Germany has chosen a man who is considered untested on the world stage, at a time of global economic uncertainty.
Throughout the campaign Mr Schröder has put aside left-wing ideology, trying rather to win over what he calls the new centre of German politics.
Gerhard Schröder says he willrenew Germany's economic system, cut unemployment, and trim the state's overgenerous welfare payments without harming those in real need.