Berlin, Sept. 26 (BNA): Germans will vote on Sunday to determine the political direction of Europe’s largest economy after nearly 16 years under Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The pivotal election is what the center-left Social Democrats will lose after the party’s unexpected but steady rise to the top of the opinion polls.
The SPD’s candidate for chancellor, Olaf Schulz, 63, who has worked closely with Merkel as finance minister for the past four years, is the front-runner to take up her chancellorship, but only.
His main rival, 60-year-old Armin Laschet of the Christian Democrats (CDU), lost ground during a lackluster election campaign, but has closed the gap in opinion polls to a few percentage points in recent days, according to German news agency DPA. ).
Such small margins will be crucial as the parties establish themselves for the coalition after the results come in.
For the first time in its history, the Greens have fielded a candidate for chancellor this year, but Annalena Barbock has seen her popularity plummet and the Greens are expected to come a distant third.
Merkel has led a conservative bloc – made up of the Christian Democratic Union and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) – to victory in the last four elections, defining Germany’s political culture for a generation.
She is the second longest serving leader in the country after Helmut Kohl, who led Germany through reunification.
Most commentators see a three-party coalition as the most likely outcome of the election. No party managed more than a quarter of the vote share in opinion polls during the campaign.