With German Polls Closing, Merkel Looks To Historic 4th Term In Office; Far-Right AfD Set To Enter Bundestag

With polls closing shortly, Germany voted on Sunday in the country's federal elections, with long-serving Chancellor Angela Merkel looks certain to win a historic fourth term in office (see full preview here). Absent last minute drama, the poll is also expected to see the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) entering parliament for the first time. The only outstanding question today is which other party or parties will join the chancellor’s Christian Democrats coalition in her new government

Polls opened at 8am (06:00 GMT) and first projections are expected when the polls close at 6pm.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged people to go vote. "Voting is a civic duty. Go and vote!" Steinmeier wrote in an opinion piece published in the Bild am Sonntag Sunday newspaper. "Every vote counts - your vote counts," Steinmeier doubled down, hoping to avoid the recent plunge in voter participation observed in France. "People who don't vote allow others to decide the future of our country."

Some 61.5 million people are eligible to vote, and turnout was expected to be higher than the 71.5% of voters who turned up at the polls at the last election four years ago, however amid overcast skies and rain in much of Germany, turnout was little changed from the previous election in 2013, reaching 41.1% at 2 p.m. Berlin time, four hours before the close of voting.

Regardless of participation, the winner is certain: opinion polls suggest Merkel and her party are heading for a clear win, which would gift Merkel a historic fourth term. Merkel’s bloc, which includes her Bavarian allies in the Christian Social Union, had the support of just about 37 percent of voters in the final opinion polls during the campaign.

That’s about 15 percentage points ahead of its main challenger and current coalition partner, Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats. According to Bloomberg, four other parties -- the pro-business Free Democrats, the Greens, the anti-capitalist Left and, for the first time ever, the populist Alternative for Germany, or AfD, are poised to win seats in the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag

A fourth victory for the Chancellor would crown a remarkable comeback for Merkel from a plunge in her popularity amid the 2015-16 refugee crisis that saw 1.3 million migrants flood into Germany. Early this year, she was equal in the polls with Schulz, a fresh face in German domestic politics, but the Social Democrat’s challenge has faded in recent months and his party threatens to post its worst result since World War II. Merkel, 63 and chancellor for 12 years, has portrayed herself during the campaign as a beacon of stability in a world buffeted by crises.

"There is no other European politician who could remotely match her in terms of her longevity, her credibility among her own people," said Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee, reporting from Berlin. "It is impossible to imagine a conservative politician or even one from the left in any other European country taking in a million refugees and surviving politically."

“Despite everyone saying this election is boring, it’s actually crucial from a geo-strategic point of view,” Judy Dempsie, a senior associate at Carnegie Europe, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. The result will determine what kind of a partner the U.S. has in Europe on issues such as North Korea, she said. “Whoever wins the election on Sunday will have to become far more involved in these major geo-strategic issues that are outside Europe.”

In terms of preferred outcomes, Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) can hope for a narrow majority with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), or the environmentalist Greens, or an untried coalition with both.

Alternatively, the CDU will continue its so-called grand coalition of the biggest parties with the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), which has seen its support erode to a historic low over the past decade. Martin Schulz, the SPD candidate and Merkel's main contender, is stuck in polls of about 20 percent support, and has been unable to make any headway against the CDU.

The biggest surprise, however, the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) is expected to take at least 60 parliamentary seats in the election, after having narrowly failed to clear the 5% hurdle to enter parliament in 2013. It would be the first time in 60 years that a far-right party is represented in the Bundestag. AfD has been saying it will press for Merkel to be "severely punished" for opening the door to refugees and migrants, and attacked Islam by saying it "does not belong in Germany".

The outcome of today's election is also being closely watched in Paris, where President Emmanuel Macron is proposing measures to deepen integration in the euro area that depend on the support of Germany, Europe’s biggest economy as well as its dominant country under Merkel.

Once voting ends at 6pm local time, television exit polls will reveal if the chancellor has managed to outperform expectations as she did in the previous election in 2013. If the CDU/CSU and the FDP can get to a combined 48.5 percent or so - a level they’ve not managed in polling since late August - that would allow Merkel to reprise the business-friendly coalition she led from 2009 to 2013, according to Bloomberg.

If not, she has two alternatives: as noted above, the first is to try to add the environmentalist Greens to that coalition with the FDP, but it’s a combination previously untested at national level. The easier option might be to continue the “grand coalition” with the SPD, though that would face resistance among grassroots Social Democrats who would prefer to go into opposition. While agreement on a CDU-FDP coalition might take just a few weeks, other options could see talks dragging on for months.

Whatever the final distribution of seats, a fourth election victory for Merkel, western Europe’s most powerful political leader, would equal those for her CDU predecessors Konrad Adenauer, the first postwar chancellor, and Helmut Kohl, who oversaw German reunification in 1990. She’s said she plans to serve a full four-year term, which would equal Kohl’s record 16 years in office


Manthong Looney Sun, 09/24/2017 - 11:26 Permalink

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Aren’t Germans supposed to be schmardt?

In reply to by Looney

7thGenMO greenskeeper carl Sun, 09/24/2017 - 12:40 Permalink

I have lived near where Merkel was raised in East Germany.  I've listened to her address the German people.  She speaks with the soothing authority of a Lutheran pastor - learned from her dad.  However, few in the West understand the barbarity of the GDR.  Merkel is a jackal bitch resulting from this system, and her education in agitprop has allowed her to thoroughly fool the German people. Remember that John Kerry had a little talk with the Saudi king just before Draghi announced Euro QE - as covered on ZH.  The Saudi's agreed to over-produce crude to hide the inflation.  I have no doubt that Merkel accepting the refugees was part of the deal, which was totally unnecessary as the Saudi's have an empty tent city outside of Mecca that could easily accomodate 500,000 of them.

In reply to by greenskeeper carl

Hans-Zandvliet AlexCharting Sun, 09/24/2017 - 12:35 Permalink

Finding the worst leaders, Americans have beaten the Germans hands down. The 2016 election campaign was a disgrace from start to finish, resulting in a choice between a bloodlusty psychopath and a twittering political dimwit. Still a stroke of luck we didn't end up with the psychopath, but the dimwit has since turned into a puppet of the deepstate, twittering about "fire and fury the world has never seen before" and chattering about "completely destroying" a nation in front of the UN General Assembly.Angela Merkel is not my favorite either, but she's still a world apart from Washington's political dissaster area. 

In reply to by AlexCharting

carlnpa Manthong Sun, 09/24/2017 - 11:29 Permalink

Today is GOLD Star Mothers Day.  Overpaid players spitting on the Gold Star MothersGold Star Mother’s Day is observed in the United States on the last Sunday of September each year. It is a day for people to recognize and honor those who have lost a son or daughter while serving the United States Armed Forces.This will be epic later today - disrespecting Gold Star Mothers.https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0LEV1_vvcdZjsMAg1VXN...The last Sunday in September is also Parents of Fallen Military Sons and Daughters Day in New Jersey. This day is a tribute to all parents whose children died as a result of their service with the United States Armed Forces. It commemorates the contributions, commitments and sacrifices made by those parents individually and through the American Gold Star Mothers, 

In reply to by Manthong

Clock Crasher Manthong Sun, 09/24/2017 - 11:47 Permalink

I think it already is too late.  The only thing that can save Germany now is complete and total collapse of their currency and hence caring capacity of the Islamic population. But even then... they Islamist would probably just strong arm what remains, kill all the European men and impregnate all the European women. Rather than reset back to where they came from now that easy street died.So it's all or nothing kind of gambit.  They would either disappear when the money disappears or become more nightmarish. Or Germany swings hard right and we have another systematic ethnic purge. 

In reply to by Manthong

Clock Crasher Manthong Sun, 09/24/2017 - 12:04 Permalink

C_C anecdoteI was in New Zealand Jan-April tramping around as they say (long distance section hiking).A LOT of Germans there.  Mostly high school graduates.  I learned that in Germany and Europe at large, it is customary to graduate high school (maybe college) and travel abroad for an entire year or so.I would bring up these types of issues.  Now keep in mind these were kids but the mantra was "oh no, its nothing like that, I see no problems in my country etc etc."Then I'd come off trail get to the back packers hostel jump on the Hedge and read about some gruesome shit going down over there in good ole Europe/Germany. 

In reply to by Manthong

Aubiekong Sun, 09/24/2017 - 11:26 Permalink

Idiots, Every muslim invader allowed to stay is a nail in your coffin.  In 20-40 years every christian church in Germany will have been replaced with a mosque and the old German culture will have be forgotten.  If you are German and have children you should have them reading the Koran, they are going to need it....

silverer Sun, 09/24/2017 - 11:30 Permalink

Germans are great. The German population has proceeded step by step in the following manner:

1st term: buy a large handgun
2nd term: buy ammo
3rd term: point the gun at your own head
4th term: pull the trigger.

Clock Crasher Sun, 09/24/2017 - 11:41 Permalink

Today we have Nuclear armed North Korea.Soon we will have the Nuclear armed Islamic States of Britain & France and Germany producing non nuclear armaments and munitions for the United European Armies of Allah EUAA (and their satellite Islamic militaries of Sweden, Italy, Spain).By this time (decade or two from now) The US will be recovering from Hyperinflation-Debt Jubilee with loans from Russia. In exchange for Russian loans the US will take out the Western EU Islamic armies starting with Britain using Iceland as a launching pad.  The Eastern European countries (Poland and company under attack from waves of German Islamic military forces) will retreat under the safety of the Russian flag.  Russia will attack from the East.Germany will be divided again.  This time she will not retain her name or heritage as we know it today.In the 1900's we had Japan rampaging through China.  Their credo was "Kill All, Rape All, Steal All"In the 2000's we will have German lead EUAA rampaging through Europe.  Their credo will be "Kill All, Rape All, Steal All"Force on force combat will raze Europe the the ground once again.  This time the fighting will resemble Syria with more volume.  Armored Infantry vs Modern Air Forces.  Tactical artillery fired Fission weapons.  Revenge killings and death squads.  Rail guns will be used from the sea.  MOABS and JDAMS laser guided onto targets from high altitude. 

Pliskin coast1 Sun, 09/24/2017 - 11:44 Permalink

Which Germans are getting their head off?Do you mean the american, muslim, lovin, head choppers in Syria/Iraq/Afghanistan?LOVE to see/hear about american soldiers getting their heads cut off, or bombed to death, makes my fucking day!Fuck 'em, burn in hell, scum-fucks! 

In reply to by coast1

Pliskin Sun, 09/24/2017 - 11:40 Permalink

Of course Merkel will win, that's who the U.S.A wants to win, americas subservient little bitch, fuck you Ghordius, go and live your life sucking on that american tit. 

smacker Sun, 09/24/2017 - 11:45 Permalink

If the German people vote Mutti in for a 4th term, then her action in allowing vast numbers of Islamic "refugees" (including terrorists and many economic migrants) into the country - who have committed many crimes - will be vindicated and they only have themselves to blame when she opens the door to more of them.

CRM114 Sun, 09/24/2017 - 11:49 Permalink

Regardless of participation, the winner is certain: opinion polls suggest

After the last 4 years of "opinion poll" failures worldwide, how can anybody write such BS?

Clycntct Sun, 09/24/2017 - 11:59 Permalink

Can somebody please explain to me how an invasive species can be allowed to overtake a beautiful country and yet the people actually take the effort to go walk to a location and pull the lever to allow it?