Germany is the world's fourth and Europe's largest economy. Its leader, Angela Merkel, has been named the world's most powerful woman by Forbes magazine. And Berlin is pivotal to solving a euro crisis that has presented the gravest threat to the European Union since its creation more than 50 years ago. When Germans vote for a new leader, it is relevant from Berlin to Boston to Beijing, so all eyes will be on the country this Sunday as Merkel seeks her third term as chancellor.
A tight race is shaping up between German parties ahead of the federal election, which could make for a suspenseful evening on Sunday. The latest polls suggest incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel's current coalition government has a slight lead and could gain re-election on Sunday. But that outcome is far from certain, with polls showing her junior coalition partner, the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), just barely eking out the five percent of the vote required to stay in parliament.
It is fairly likely that Merkel will be re-elected, but who will she govern with? The FDP or the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), her conservative party's classic archrival, in a grand coalition government? With few prospects of winning the election with their own chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrück, SPD strategists in recent days have been hoping for a strong enough election showing to catapult the party into a power-sharing government with Merkel.
Visit our site on Sunday for full live coverage of the election starting at 5 p.m. and ending early Monday morning.
Our coverage will include:
- A live ticker of the latest news developments
- Exit poll data (at 6 p.m.)
- Early election-night forecasts
- Official results
- Authoritative analysis and opinion from our correspondents We will follow up in the days immediately following the election with in-depth analysis from SPIEGEL ONLINE and, starting Wednesday, SPIEGEL's special post-election magazine, exploring the results and the likely composition of the next government in Berlin.
So join us on Thursday night. We also encourage you to Tweet your comments using the hashtags #spiegel_english and #btw13.