Angela Merkel makes final pitch for votes ahead of German election

Saturday 21 September 2013 22.46
A man walks past a placard advertising CDU candidate German Chancellor Angela Merkel and SPD chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrueck in Berlin
A man walks past a placard advertising CDU candidate German Chancellor Angela Merkel and SPD chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrueck in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on track to win a third term in a weekend election in Germany.

Ms Merkel, at a campaign rally late last night, again spoke out against proposed measures to address the euro zone debt crisis by having Berlin share in underwriting the risk on other sovereign borrowers' debts.

"We reject eurobonds and debt mutualisation," Ms Merkel told a rain-soaked crowd in Hanover. "Other parties want that and that's why I'm asking for your vote for the CDU."

Two most recent opinion polls showed Ms Merkel's conservatives and their Free Democrat (FDP) coalition partners in a dead heat with the combined leftist opposition on 45% each, while a third poll showed her coalition a point ahead of Steinbrueck's SPD and its potential allies on the left by 45% to 44%.

A poll by the Emnid institute for Bild am Sonntag newspaper showed Ms Merkel's conservatives - her Christian Democrat CDU and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union - fully 13 points ahead of the SPD, meaning she will almost surely return for a third term.

But the uncertain performance of smaller parties makes the election in Europe's largest economy too close to call.

Ms Merkel could win a narrow majority with the FDP, her preferred partner, or fall short and be forced into difficult negotiations with the SPD which could last up to two months and result in big changes to her cabinet, including the departure of Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a key player in the crisis.

The wild card is a new anti-euro party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which was polling around 4% percent and so could manage to vault over the 5% threshold needed to win seats in parliament on election night.

That could doom Merkel's hopes of continuing her current coalition and stir concerns about rising German euroscepticism - though its impact on government policy would likely be limited.

Keywords: angela merkel