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1ST LEAD Germany expected to re-elect Merkel, send far-right to parliament By Friederike Heine, dpa

Europe
24.09.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - Polling stations opened across Germany on Sunday in an election that is expected to grant Angela Merkel, the country‘s long-serving chancellor, a fourth term in office and see the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) enter parliament for the first time.

Having led Germany through a calm and prosperous 12 years, Merkel has run a campaign built on a promise to keep things more or less the same at a time of unprecedented instability within the European Union and a potentially seismic shift in trans-Atlantic relations.

Some 61.5 million people are eligible to cast their ballots in the election, in which Merkel‘s Christian Democrats (CDU) are expected to win between 34 and 36 per cent, according to the latest polling data from Friday.

The CDU can hope for a narrow majority with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), or the environmentalist Greens, or an untried coalition with both. The FDP and the Greens are polling at 9 and 8 per cent respectively.

Alternatively, the CDU will continue its so-called grand coalition of the biggest parties with the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), which has seen its support erode to a historic low of between 21 and 22 per cent.

The AfD is expected to win between 11 and 13 per cent on Sunday, after having narrowly failed to clear the 5-per-cent hurdle to enter parliament in 2013.

It is the first time in 60 years that a far-right party will be represented in the Bundestag.

The polls are set to close at 6 pm (1600 GMT) and first projected results will be broadcast at the same time.

 

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