Published: Sun, September 24, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

What to Know Ahead of Germany Elections

What to Know Ahead of Germany Elections

A late surge in support has propelled the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party into third place in the opinion polls with just days to go before the ballot.

In the 12 years since she was first elected, through steady pragmatism, with no frills and no stardust, Angela Merkel has become the planet's most powerful woman and Europe's most influential leader.

The election will see the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) taking seats in the Bundestag parliament for the first time.

The International Auschwitz Committee warned that the "conglomerate of anti-Semites, enemies of democracy and nationalistic agitators" will bring "an inhuman coldness" to the glass-domed chamber of the Reichstag building.

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Rowdy dissenters blowing whistles and vuvuzelas and shouting "get lost" sought to drown out her rally in the southern city of Munich.

Polls now show that Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party - with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) - will be the largest party after the Bundestag election on 24 September, but they will fall short of a majority. During her campaign rallies, Merkel has been repeatedly confronted by organised AfD protesters, even dodging a few tomatoes while hammering home her stability-and-prosperity stump speech. "They are a shame for our nation". Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and some commentators have likened the AfD to Hitler's Nazis.

One of two AfD leading candidates, Alexander Gauland, has called for Germans to shed their guilt over two world wars and the Holocaust and to take pride in their veterans. Germans are set to vote in a general election on September 24 after a campaign which has seen parties spar over how closely refugees and immigrants should integrate into the national culture, sparking fierce discussions.

The economy has performed well, however Mrs Merkel has faced criticism of her so-called "open door" immigration policy.

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In a last-ditch bid to stir voters, the SPD's Gabriel accused Merkel of caving in to the demands of US President Donald Trump by pledging to raise defence spending to two percent of GDP.

Merkel's conservative bloc slipped one percentage point in the GMS poll to 37 per cent and her main opponents, the Social Democrats (SPD), were unchanged on 22 per cent.

Looking at the surveys, many rank-and file SPD members wonder whether the traditional working class party needs a stint in opposition to rekindle its fighting spirit.

Another option is a Black-Yellow coalition, consisting of Merkel's CDU party propped up by the smaller Free Democratic Party (FDP).

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With the FDP polling strongly enough to return to the Bundestag under new leader Christian Lindner after a four year absence, she could consider an oft-mooted but ideologically disconsonant three-party coalition with the pro-business party and the Greens.

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