Germany Election: Merkel Seeks Fourth Term
Albanian Daily News
Published September 24, 2017
Angela Merkel has been Germany's chancellor since 2005Millions of Germans are casting their votes in the country's federal elections, with Chancellor Angela Merkel tipped to retain power.
She is seeking a fourth term in office and to keep her conservative CDU/CSU alliance's status as the largest presence in Germany's parliament.
Its coalition partner, the social democratic SPD, is its main rival, while the right-wing AfD is likely to gain its first parliamentary seats.
Voter turnout looks set to be high.
By midday more people had voted in most regions, than by the same time in the federal elections four years ago.
Mrs Merkel has cast her vote at a polling station in Berlin; the SPD's candidate for chancellor, Martin Schulz, voted earlier in the day in his home town Wuerselen in western Germany.
Polling stations opened at 08:00 local time (06:00 GMT) and close at 18:00, with exit polls expected shortly after.
The election is seen as important because it may result in six parties in the Bundestag - the German national parliament - for the first time since World War Two.
Such a result could mean a change in the makeup of the current governing coalition.
Uncertainty about what a new coalition government could look like is expected to draw high numbers of voters to the ballot boxes, with postal voting higher than usual.
Angela Merkel: Widely expected to retain her seat, Mrs Merkel is seen internationally as a source of stability - having led Germany since 2005. Her decision to open Germany to asylum seekers during the peak of Europe's migrant crisis cost her politically, but she appears to have recovered
Martin Schulz: The SPD leader was until recently speaker of the European Parliament. Mrs Merkel's main rival is also her coalition partner - which has proved troublesome during the campaign, as he sought to criticise her politics
Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland: The top candidates for the AfD. Achieving seats in the Bundestag - or potentially becoming the third-largest party, as some campaign polls suggested - would be a major victory