Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - Chancellor Angela Merkel may be on track to win a fourth term in Sunday's election, but exactly what Germany's next government will look like is anyone's guess as thorny coalition talks loom.
Polls suggest his centre-left SPD may only get about 23 per cent of the vote.
"We're still in an upward trend" for European populist parties, said Terri Givens, a professor at Menlo College and an expert on the radical right.
Accurate or not, the polls signal a huge shift in voter preference since earlier this year. The FDP won 12.6 percent of the vote in the North Rhine-Westphalia state election - jolting up 4 percentage points and snagging a coalition deal with the Christian Democrats (CDU) to govern Germany's most populous state. He lost in a string of regional elections to the CDU, including in Germany's most populous sate, North Rhine-Westphalia.
"Oh no", he said.
For the dog it was most likely the offer of a biscuit in the second row, but what is it that's driving the voters away?
Despite the often vicious public disagreements in the party's leadership style, the AfD continuously rammed home its anti-immigration and anti-Islam message, insisting that Merkel's 2015 decision to give security and shelter to one million refugees-the majority from Syria and Iraq-was wrong for Germany and wrong for Europe.
The fact that some of the Left's members were once part of the SED, which ran the East German dictatorship, remains a gripe for many voters.
The 2000s were hard times for the FDP, as the party found itself in the opposition during most of the decade.
But Mrs. Wiegank will still be voting for the SPD on September 24, with one reason always drawing her back.
"If she is true to what she has insinuated with President Macron, she wants European reforms", said Benner, which she could carry out with the support of the staunchly pro-EU Schulz, a former European Parliament chief.
At a recent press conference, Schulz attempted to dodge questions about whether the SPD would join yet another grand coalition. A shift in German policy towards Greece might not even be in the latter's favor, says 36-year-old software programmer Stamatis Rapanakis. "We must fight against the leaders of the party, but we must not attack their sympathizers", said the SPD candidate. The paper said that feeling was unanimous among the half-dozen staff members who talked to them, and they represented every party now represented in Parliament. The effects on political debate in Germany have been destabilizing and brought once-taboo, radical views into the mainstream discourse.
Lower taxes for employees; full employment by 2025; more money for families; state support for companies; more police; more defense spending; more North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; and more European Union.
But Merkel also said action had to accompany words.
"Germany's approach on the Greek economy is not going to change.[it] has grown exhausted of the Greek issue", Yiorgos Tzogopoulos, a researcher at the Eliamep foreign policy think tank, told news portal in.gr. So, if a party gets 20% of the national vote it gets 20% of the party seats, being 59 seats.
Finally, the dominant issue will continue to be the EU, and Germany's relationship with it, with the FDP pushing for reform and the SPD looking for further integration, whilst AfD pushes its Eurosceptic agenda and the CDU/CSU promotes a plan for slowing the tide of increasing cynicism across other European nations following the UK's Brexit vote. This could make coalition-building hard. So they'd be better off being the main opposition.
"Auto industry firms excessively exploited regulatory loopholes, they haven't only damaged themselves, but above all deceived and disappointed consumers and the authorities", she said in stern remarks at the events opening ceremony.
In this year's election, six parties are forecast to enter parliament, up from four now.