German Election Podcast What You Need To Know About Sunday's Vote

Germans head to the polls this Sunday to elect their next parliament. In our special election podcast, SPIEGEL ONLINE Editor-in-Chief Barbara Hans discusses issues that have shaped the campaign, Angela Merkel's prospects for a fourth term and the likelihood the far right will win seats.

Weighing the vote: Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz

Weighing the vote: Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz

Bonus-Episode (English): Germany's Election - What You Need To Know

This Sunday, Germans will head to the polls to elect the next Bundestag, the country's national parliament, a vote that will also determine whether Angela Merkel will land a fourth term as the country's chancellor. It's an election that began with an air of excitement as Martin Schulz, Merkel's Social Democratic (SPD) challenger, returned from Brussels, where he had been the president of the European Parliament. Initially, it looked as though his candidacy could upend politics in Berlin, which has slumbered through four years of a Grand Coalition, pairing Merkel's conservatives with the center-left SPD that Schulz now leads.

After seeing his political fortunes soar early in the polls, Schulz lost traction following a series of losses for his party in state elections and a failure to score political points with his message of greater equality in Germany. It now appears that Merkel will easily cruise past the finish line and lead the next government in what many observers view as a vote for stability in these uncertain times of Trump and Brexit.

The election is also expected to see significant gains by the Alternative for Germany party, which is almost certain to become the first far-right party to win seats in parliament in postwar German history. The party has run an Islamophobic, anti-immigrant campaign that has cast light on an uglier part of the German political sphere and on a segment of the voting population that no longer feels represented by the country's mainstream parties. The AfD, whose campaign has taken its cue from the "alt-right" movement in the United States, is likely to bring a style of debate into parliament that the German political class has successfully fought off for decades.

As part of our coverage of the election, we have produced a special edition of SPIEGEL ONLINE's weekly "Stimmenfang" campaign trail podcast in English. SPIEGEL International's Charles Hawley and Daryl Lindsey sat down to discuss the election together with Barbara Hans, editor in chief of SPIEGEL ONLINE. We hope you enjoy it.


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