Germany, with a population of nearly 82 million, has seen its influence in the European Union grow significantly in recent years as it has weathered the economic storm perhaps better than any other member state. Having recovered from a recession in 2008, the country narrowly dodged a repeat slump at the start of 2013. Now the German economy appears to be on the up, with economic indicators looking solid. Angela Merkel, as current keeper of Germany’s most coveted political position, the chancellorship, has become the figurehead and perceived key decision-maker of the EU’s response the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis. Protestors in the southern economies hit worst by economic stagnation have held up banners decrying the impacts of “Merkel austerity”, the chancellor’s campaign to shave sovereign debt by cutting public spending. But in her home country, analysts say that Merkel is enjoying an unusual spell of popular support due to her handling of the eurozone crisis.
Most parties have eschewed European issues in their election campaigns, perhaps to avoid taking politically unpopular issues in a country that has largely bankrolled bailouts of other EU states.
Disputes have flared among political allies on the banking union and deeper integration, with the feeling being that the subject is too divisive for their electoral campaigns.
The Bundestag, Germany’s national parliament, operates on a basis of mixed-member proportional representation, with 622 seats up for grabs from representatives from all of Germany’s 16 ‘Länder’, or states. Merkel’s CDU holds 193 of these, with her coalition partners the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the CDU’s Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) holding respectively 93 and 44 seats.
The Social Democrat Party (SPD) has 146 seats, the Left 76 and the Greens 68.
Deutsche Bank Research, the German bank’s analytics wing, says the gap between the combined SPD and Green votes and the CDU/CSU and FDP, the current coalition, has widened steadily leading up to the elections.
All five major polls on the upcoming elections have the CDU/CSU at 40%-plus, perhaps enough to win re-election even without their coalition partner, the FDP. The SPD stands at around 25%, the Greens at 12-14% and all but one expect the FDP to achieve at least 5% of the votes, therefore remaining in the parliament.
The eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party’s predicted 2-3% share leaves it unlikely to enter the Bundestag.
Full Article: German elections 2013: Don’t mention Europe | EurActiv.