Germany Votes, Will Merkel Hold On?

Germany is holding its federal election today, which will decide whether Chancellor Angela Merkel will remain in office for a third term. Polls show her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), edging the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) for the plurality of votes. However, she will need some help from her coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party (FDP), in order to have an outright majority in the Bundestag, the German federal legislature.

One of the biggest changes from the last election is the precipitous fall of the FDP.  In 2009 the FDP garnered 14.6% of the vote and won 93 seats in the Bundestag. However, their alliance with Merkel’s CDU has diminished their popularity and their failure to follow through with promised tax reforms has taken a heavy toll on their election numbers. Combine that with a lackluster campaign effort and the result is that the FDP is currently projected to get a mere 5.5% of the vote, barely above the 5% cutoff point for winning any seats in the Bundestag. This puts Merkel in a precarious situation at a time where she cannot afford to lose her junior partner in her coalition.

Meanwhile, another party that has been on the ropes in recent weeks is the Green Party. While they polled as high as 15% as recently as a month ago, now most surveys report their support at less than 10%. This comes after reports that their co-leader Jürgen Trittin signed a petition in 1981 that advocated for the legalization of sex between minors and adults. Obviously, the German electorate didn’t take too kindly to that revelation.

So will Merkel pull off a victory like she did in 2009, or will the opposition do well enough to force her into a grand coalition with them? It’s anybody’s guess at this point, but my gut is telling me she will prevail. Most Germans want her remain as Chancellor, so even if she is unable to get an outright majority, she will have the public support to stay on in the even of a grand coalition.

The polls will be closing in a few hours and we’ll have a post-election wrap up as soon as the votes are counted. Stay tuned!

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