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Germany’s election race is too close to call as SPD’s lead narrows


Construction workers place a barrier in front of an election campaign poster for Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party leader and candidate for Chancellor Armin Laschet.

Getty Images Just a few days remain before Germans will vote in the federal elections on Sunday. The most recent poll indicates that there is a narrowing of the gap between top and bottom contenders.| AFP | Getty Images

With just a handful of days until Germans vote in the federal election on Sunday, the latest poll shows the gap narrowing between the top two contenders.

Although Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), remains on top, the latest poll from Insa to the German newspaper Bild shows that this gap is shrinking. Only three points separate the SPD and Conservatives.

Since August, the center-left SPD saw a rapid rise in popularity. Olaf Scholz (the party’s candidate to become chancellor) has performed well on the campaign trail. The party’s manifesto — which encompasses left-leaning taxation and social policies, a pro-EU stance and flexible debt brake rules — has also appealed to voters who want a change to the status quo when Merkel leaves office.

According to the poll, the SPD won 25%, 22% went for the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), and 15% went for the Green Party.

Although the poll indicates the election will be close, German voters are more inclined to support stability than they were in previous elections. This could mean that the SPD’s lead may not hold up when it comes time to vote.

Nonetheless, the SPD’s Scholz — a seasoned politician who is currently finance minister and vice chancellor — appears to be more popular with the public than his CDU/CSU rival Armin Laschet, chosen as the alliance’s successor to Merkel earlier this year.

Debate wins

Three television debates between main candidates Scholz, Laschet and the Greens’ candidate Annalena Baerbock have seen the public consistently vote for Scholz as the winner of the wide-ranging and often combative discussions on issues ranging from climate protection to security and taxes.

The latest debate on Sunday night was no exception, with a snap poll putting Scholz as the clear winner (with 42% of viewers thinking this, according to a Forsa poll), while Laschet got 27% and Baerbock received 25%.

Scholz and Baerbock suggested in debate that it might be a sign of things to follow when it comes time to negotiate a coalition after the election. Since no one party will win enough seats, it is unlikely that any single party can govern. However, they both signalled a willingness to negotiate with all parties except the far-right Alternative for Germany.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, experts have struggled to decide which party would be part of the coalition. It is not clear that there will be an easy-to-reach coalition.

There are many possible three-party combinations being considered. There are a variety of three-party formations being considered.

CNBC’s Gerlinde Groitl spoke on Monday about the unpredictable nature of the recent election to decide who would lead the country.

“The FDP really wants to be in a coalition government, but they have various gaps to bridge with the Social Democrats — they are far apart in terms of tax policy, social policy etc — and we have really a couple of coalition options probably on the table beginning next Sunday.”

It is also in doubt whether the far-left Die Linke, which has demanded the dissolution of NATO’s West military alliance, would participate in any coalition. This could prove to be uncomfortable for some German voters who lean towards the centre or right.

CDU/CSU’s candidate Laschet took advantage of the television debates to stir public concern about Die Linke’s inclusion in a possible government. Baerbock and Scholz have not ruled out the possibility of working with Die Linke. However, Scholz stated that all parties in a German coalition must commit to NATO.

Groitl pointed out that the SPD had moved to the right, but the candidate Scholz for the party was closer to the center of the spectrum. There would still be gaps before any left-leaning alliance could be formed.

After the election she predicted that there would be “tough negotiations,” which might “dragon for a while.”