(BERLIN) — Some 60 million Germans are making their way to polling stations on Sunday as Europe’s most powerful country looks set to re-elect Angela Merkel as chancellor for an historic fourth term.
Major western democracies have delivered unpredictable election results recently, including in the United States, the United Kingdom and France. But German polls have been historically accurate, and Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) looks set to be the biggest party, although they would still likely need a coalition with smaller parties to form a government.
The polls also predict that Germany’s right-wing, nationalist and anti-immigration party — Alternate for Deutschland (AfD) — will enter the Bundestag, or Germany’s parliament. They are polling as high as 10 to 13 percent, making them potentially the third-largest party.
This would be the first time an ultra-nationalist party was elected to seats in the German Bundestag in over 50 years, reflecting the fears and anxieties of a German population that has had to absorb more than a million refugees since Merkel opened her country’s doors to those fleeing wars in Syria and elsewhere. Their nationalist platform has raised many of the ghosts of Germany’s Nazi past.
Merkel has managed, by and large, to ensure Germany has successfully absorbed those refugees, with the emergent right the only worrisome result.
Merkel has campaigned on the slogan “Wir Schaffen Das,” meaning, “We will make it happen.”
The chancellor has become a key figure on the world stage and a partner for the U.S. in global affairs during a turbulent time.
She has urged restraint with North Korea and said she favors dialogue to solve the crisis, and she remains the western leader with the closest connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin. She is also a firm advocate of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union.
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