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Germany - general election analysis

Merkel optimistic as Germans go to the polls

Article published on the 2009-09-27 Latest update 2009-09-27 13:32 TU

Merkel casts her ballot in Berlin(Photo: Reuters)

Merkel casts her ballot in Berlin
(Photo: Reuters)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expects to win Sunday's general election and opinion polls put her Christian Democrats (CDU) ahead. But a coalition government is almost certain and a quarter of voters say they are undecided. 

"I’m sure that Angela Merkel will win the elections, but we do not know what coalition will follow," says Professor Gerd Langguth of Bonn University.

Analysis: Professor Gerd Langguth, Bonn University

27/09/2009 by Daniel Finnan

In the previous government, the CDU was in a "grand coalition" with Frank-Walter Steinmeier's Social Democrats (SPD), traditionally the largest party on the left. Merkel would like to ditch the SPD and form a government with the smaller, liberal Free Democrats (FDP).

"Many think that now there could be a switch with the liberal party," comments Langguth. "But I’m not sure at this moment that this will work."

A change of partners would not mean big changes in foreign policy, he says. 

"The question is concerning internal policy especially tax questions. There will be a debate if it would be possible to reduce the taxes or not, which is a very strong demand of the liberal party and Mrs Merkel is very reluctant concerning that."

Germany has 4,200 troops in Afghanistan at present and, although polls show most Germans opposed to their presence, only the hard-left die Linke party has campaigned against it in the election. 

"I think its more important than one thinks sometimes," says Langguth. "Because we have a lot of pacifists in our German population due to our own history. Many people are saying we should never play a very important, especially military, role in the world.

"So all the parties are interested in an exit strategy some time, but of course it would be failure to name a special date when the German troops should be reduced."

Germany has never been attacked by armed Islamist groups, the Afghan mission has brought a number of threats, including a recent one from Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

The next government will face the effects of the international economic crisis. Unemployment is forecast to rise, while at the Pittsburgh G20 summit the US pressed for a reduction of Germany's favourable balance of trade.

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German election dossier