Merkel's Free Democrat coalition partners in trouble in Germany election race

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Merkel's Free Democrat coalition partners in trouble in Germany election race

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Angela Merkel’s conservatives are still well ahead in the latest opinion polls but her coalition appears increasingly threatened.

A survey by Forsa for Stern magazine puts her Christian Democrats (CDU) on 39 percent, a score unchanged from a previous poll.

It seems touch and go as to whether the chancellor’s partners the Free Democrats (FDP) – already reeling from defeat in Bavaria at the weekend – will get enough votes to enter parliament.

In one poll, the FDP sit at five percent – the minimum needed to maintain a parliamentary presence.

Given the impossibility of her party gaining enough votes to govern alone, Merkel needs votes to go the Free Democrats’ way. But to call openly for some people to back another party would be a risky strategy.

So at a meeting in Potsdam, Merkel called on voters to cast both their permitted ballots for her CDU.

“That way you’ll enable me to continue to be your chancellor,” she told supporters. “The vote will be a tight race.”

Should the Free Democrats fail to reach their five percent target as they did in Bavaria (they gained just three percent), the chancellor would probably seek a grand coalition with Peer Steinbrück’s opposition Social Democrats, as was the case during her first term in office.

A poster showing the leader giving a rude finger gesture has apparently done him little harm. At a rally in Emden he dealt deftly with an egg hurled in his direction.

Polls give the SPD about 25 percent of the vote.

The Social Democrats’ allies the Greens are in trouble with their share threatening to fall below 10 percent.

One of the leaders’ of the Greens, former environment minister Juergen Trittin has been forced to apologise over calls back in 1981 from within his branch of the party for sex with minors to be decriminalised.

“I didn’t do enough to oppose them,” he said.

Other factors could come into play ahead of next weekend’s vote. A strong showing from smaller parties such as “Die Linke’ – The Left – and the anti-euro party, the Alliance for Germany, could throw the electoral calculations.