Germany’s Merkel fights for majority in September 22 election

Germany holds its parliamentary elections Sunday, with current Chancellor Angela Merkel looking set to win a third term.

Ms. Merkel was out campaigning Saturday in a final push for votes.

“I ask the people in Germany to give me a strong mandate, so that I can continue to serve Germany for another four years, for a stronger Germany, a country which is well respected in Europe, which defends its interests, but is also a friend of a lot of countries.”

But it could be a close fight for her center-right coalition to preserve its majority over the leftist opposition.

Polls show Ms. Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic party falling short of an absolute majority, while its current coalition partners, the Free Democrats, look set to lose seats. If that happens, Chancellor Merkel may end up joining her main leftist rivals, the Social Democrats, in a grand coalition of right and left. But if the Social Democrats win many seats, they could form a coalition with the Greens and force her out of office.

Many across Europe are watching the election. In southern Europe — and especially, Greece — Germany continues to be vilified as the country that has forced austerity on the EU, and many single out Ms. Merkel.

The Social Democrats’ chancellor candidate, Peer Steinbrueck, has criticized Ms. Merkel for stifling growth in the southern Eurozone member states by insisting on far-reaching spending cuts.

He, too, campaigned on Saturday.

“And so, I am addressing all of you who have plans for this country, Germany, and who want to get out of the stalemate and want to bring some movement back into this country. I want to address all of you who want to invest in the future and solidarity of this country. I address all of you who say that this country must not only be administered, but also politically shaped. And I ask you for your trust to do this.”

(Photo: Michael Panse)