Germany goes to polls, Merkel poised for victory

  • 24/09/2017
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, December 1, 2015. Time magazine named Merkel its 2015 "Person of the Year", noting her resilience and leadership when faced with the Syrian refugee crisis and turmoil in the European Union over its currency this year. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch   - RTX1XXIW
Photo credit: RT

Germans began voting in a national election on Sunday that is likely to see Chancellor Angela Merkel win a historic fourth term - and a far-right party's entry to parliament for the first time in more than half a century.

Ms Merkel's conservative bloc is on track to remain the largest group in parliament, opinion polls indicated.

But a fracturing of the political landscape may well make it harder for her to form a ruling coalition than previously. 

With as many as a third of Germans undecided in the run-up to the election, Merkel and her main rival, centre-left challenger Martin Schulz of the Social Democrats, urged them on Saturday to get out and vote. 

"We want to boost your motivation so that we can still reach many, many people," said the 63-year-old chancellor on Saturday, before heading to her constituency for a final round of campaigning. 

In regional votes last year, Ms Merkel's conservatives suffered setbacks to the hard-right Alternative for Germany, which profited from resentment at her 2015 decision to leave German borders open to over 1 million migrants. 

Visibly happier this year, Ms Merkel campaigned with renewed conviction; a resolve to re-tool the economy for the digital age, to head off future migrant crises, and to defend a Western order shaken by US President Donald Trump's election victory last November.