Polls in Germany point to Angela Merkel's re-election as German chancellor in a general election in less than a week's time, but speculation is mounting over which party could join her conservative Christian Democrats to form a coalition government.
If re-elected for a fourth term, Merkel's choice of partner will quickly become the main focus as its influence on German governmental policy could have far-reaching consequences for the country and wider region.
A poll released by the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday showed Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), were ahead of its nearest rival with 36 percent of the vote. The Social Democratic party (SPD), meanwhile, was seen with 22 percent of the vote. The poll, carried out by Emnid, showed the far-right anti-immigration AfD party in third place with 11 percent of the vote, followed by the far-left Linke party with 10 percent. The market-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) had 9 percent of the vote, followed by the Green party with 8 percent.
"Whichever way the cookie crumbles next Sunday, Merkel will remain chancellor, and Wolfgang Schaeuble will remain as finance minister," Erik F. Nielsen, global chief economist and head of economics and fixed income/currency, commodity and asset allocation research at Unicredit Bank, said in a note on Sunday.
"(But) it remains a bit unclear whether CDU/CSU will team up with just the FDP in a new coalition, or whether they'll need (or want) the Greens as well in a so-called Jamaica coalition. The smart money is on a CDU/CSU-FDP coalition even if they have a majority of just one, but my gut feeling is that Merkel would quite like the Greens involved as well."
The idiosyncrasies of Germany's political system mean that it is normal for parties to enter grand coalitions in order to govern.