The Pollcast: What to watch in Germany's election

Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to extend her reign as the G7's longest-serving leader in this Sunday's German election. But who will her dancing partner be? Pollcast host Éric Grenier is joined by journalist Gerd Braune.

Host Éric Grenier is joined by journalist Gerd Braune

A man walks by election posters of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and her challenger Martin Schulz from the Social Democrats. German elections will be held on Sunday. (The Associated Press/Michael Probst)

The CBC Pollcast, hosted by CBC poll analyst Éric Grenier, explores the world of electoral politics, political polls and the trends they reveal.

The world's fourth-largest economy, governed by the longest-serving leader in the G7 group of countries, is going to the polls on Sunday. The result is expected to keep Angela Merkel as the chancellor of Germany.

But she'll need a partner to form a government. Who will that be?

​Merkel's centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU, allied with its Bavarian counterpart, the Christian Social Union, or CSU) has been in power since 2005. The polls suggest that the CDU/CSU will continue to be the largest party in the German Bundestag — the latest ones give it 35 to 36 per cent support.

But Germany's mixed-member proportional representation electoral system awards seats according to each party's share of the vote (as long as they reach a threshold of 5 per cent). This has required the CDU to seek coalition partners.

In 2005, Merkel formed a "grand coalition" with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the second-largest party in the Bundestag. Four years later, the CDU then joined with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), Germany's long-standing coalition partner with CDU and SPD governments due to its position in the centre of the political spectrum.

The FDP did not have enough support to return to the Bundestag in 2013, so Merkel teamed up with the SPD again. 

The polls suggest that being in a coalition has not helped the SPD. They trail at length with between 22 and 25 per cent support. They could still join with the CDU again, or Merkel could look to new partners: a rejuvenated FDP and the Greens.

But those won't be the only parties in the Bundestag. Die Linke ("The Left"), the successors to East Germany's Communist Party, will also likely take seats, while the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a far right, anti-immigrant and anti-European Union party, could make it to parliament for the first time — and maybe even be the third-largest party.

To break down what these parties stand for, how the election has unfolded and what the results could mean for Germany, the EU and Canada, Pollcast host Éric Grenier is joined by Gerd Braune, a member of the parliamentary press gallery in Ottawa and a correspondent for German newspapers.

Listen to the full discussion above — or subscribe to the CBC Pollcast and listen to past episodes.

Follow Éric Grenier on Twitter.


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