Germany’s general election maybe just be over a week away but the people of Munich had other things on their mind as the city’s Oktoberfest got underway.
Now in its 176th year some six million people are expected to show up for the 16 day festival and consume almost as many litres of beer. But, behind the smiles security at the event is tight. Germany is on a heightened state of alert with officials warning militants could use the September 27th poll to stage terrorist strikes. Amid the serious drinking there was also some serious campaigning going on. Both Bavaria’s premier and ally to Chancellor Merkel, Horst Seehofer, and the Green party’s Claudia Roth were on hand — arguably trying to shake off any pre-election jitters and also capture floating voters. Away from the festival, the Merkel bandwagon was in full swing with her CDU party attempting to galvanise support. Latest opinion polls show her centre-right conservatives unchanged on around 36 percent — just enough to form a narrow parliamentary majority. Merkel’s main opposition rival, the SPD’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier, still trails but has made some slight ground on the Chancellor since their head to head in last week’s live TV clash.