No weekend off for Germany’s battling would-be chancellors. Angela Merkel and Frank Walter Steinmeier are trying to win over the one in four of the German electorate that is undecided just hours before the polls open.
That is because the result is too close to call and in particular for the chancellor. Angela Merkel would like to be rid of her troublesome coalition partners the SPD, but to do this she needs a big boost for her CDU, or a turnaround in fortunes for her preferred partners the FDP Liberals. Guido Westerwelle will be feted if he manages that and returns the FDP to coalition government for the first time in two decades, but the SDP of Frank Walter Steinmeier has clawed back lost ground in recent days and may yet be able to shackle Merkel in a second grand coalition, even if emerging as the biggest party seems beyond them. Voter disillusion with the two big parties in their coalition means smaller parties are expected to progress. The Greens could be coalition partners of some kind and are now established with a useful share of the vote that shows no signs of melting away, whereas the Left bloc appears to have talked itself out of any possible partnership with the Social Democrats. The most likely result come Sunday night is another CDU-SDP coalition, but it is unlikely to be as stable as the last and could be riven with infighting.