Backgrounder: Major parties in German federal election 2017

David Davis

Rolf Henning, 34, a member of the SPD for 13 years, said his party had suffered from the grand coalition of the past four years. He has struggled to gain traction with a campaign that centered on righting perceived economic injustices for Germany's have-nots.

Merkel offered Germans "a combination of the experience of recent years, in which we have achieved plenty, and curiosity for the new" during the pair's only head-to-head debate of the campaign. She pledges limited tax cuts and to keep Germany's borrowing at zero.

They put Schulz's SPD around or below the 23 per cent they won in their worst showing yet in post-Second World War Germany, which was recorded in 2009, the report said.

Hans Kundnani, an expert at the German Marshall Fund think-tank, said it's a "foregone conclusion" that Merkel will be the next chancellor. Who will be part of Germany's next government?

With the FDP polling strongly enough to return to the Bundestag under new leader Christian Lindner after a four year absence, she could consider an oft-mooted but ideologically disconsonant three-party coalition with the pro-business party and the Greens.

On the issue of Brexit, however, the FDP is unlikely to differ from the other parties significantly, despite speculation in the British press that the party could push the German government to soften its stance.

The junior partners, whoever they are, will have "limited influence over the overall direction of policy", Kundnani wrote in an analysis. And one is the Left Party, which is the successor of sorts to the East German Communists.

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Both she and her main challenger, Martin Schultz, of the centre left Social Democratic Party have appealed to voters to shun the Nationalist Party Alternative for Germany (Afd). The AfD dismisses such comparisons. And the other thing is that she's never quite overcome the public backlash about her decision in 2015 to open German borders to almost a million asylum seekers and other migrants.

NELSON: Well, the first one is actually quite unusual in German campaigning, and that's that she has protesters from the right wing heckling her and shouting her down at every one of her rallies.

The impact of Ms Merkel on the European Union has been "huge and underestimated", said Mr Kornelius. That the party managed to remain so stable in this situation is a modest victory in itself. A third-place finish - behind the Merkel's conservative bloc and the SPD - could make the AfD Germany's largest opposition party, bestowing on it a host of privileges, including generous public financing, that would make it a formidable political force. In Germany, this term is used to refer to immigrants and the descendants of immigrants - or, more precisely, to Germans who were not born German citizens or have at least one parent who was not born a German citizen.

While nearly all convicted felons retain the right to vote in Germany, a judge can ban someone who is guilty of a politically motivated crime from voting for up to five years.

This Sunday, roughly 61.5 million voters will decide on the future government of the European Union's most populous country and biggest economy.

Despite that prospect, Merkel has steadfastly declined to back away from her resistance to setting an upper limit on asylum seekers, a key demand of conservatives in her own camp.

"There is someone who wants to administer the past". The potential partners for a broader progressive project, the SPD and the Greens, have shown no interest in left-wing policies, instead orienting themselves towards the political center and presenting themselves not as representatives of the opposition, but as potential coalition partners for Angela Merkel, who will nearly certainly win the election. "He is called Martin Schulz".

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