The race to succeed Angela Merkel has gone down to the wire as a final opinion poll on Friday showed Germany’s main political parties effectively neck-and-neck ahead of Sunday’s federal election.
Dr Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) ended their campaign hoping for a record fifth term after the Allensbach polling institute placed them on 25 per cent support, just one point short of the the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).
Other polls hits week give the SPD and its chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz a lead of between three and four points but losing support, with margins of error of 2.5 per cent.
Though voters choose parties and not candidates Mr Scholz, with 47 per cent support, remains the most popular politician to succeed Dr Merkel.
Uncertainty shrouds the final result, according to polling agencies, with a record number of undecideds and a surge in postal voting.
Exit polls will give an indication of Sunday’s result when polls close at 5pm Irish time, but it may be late in the evening before a final result begins to take shape.
Complicated talks will follow, with three-way coalition talks now likely for a parliamentary majority.
The two most common options are a so-called “traffic light” coalition, with SPD sharing power with the Green Party and the pro-business liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP). Should the CDU win the election, its leader Armin Laschet will push for a three-way “Jamaica” coalition of CDU, Green and FDP. The Greens, on 16 per cent in Friday’s poll, favours a traffic light coalition – seeing more chance of progressive climate policy.
The FDP favours the Jamaica option, given overlap with the CDU on tax relief plans for businesses and top earners.