Merkel Heads for 2nd Term, With Messy Coalition

German vote could free or hamstring chancellor for 4 more years
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2009 5:41 AM CDT
An election poster for Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dresden. The caption reads: 'Confidence.'   (AP Photo/Matthias Rietschel)
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(Newser) – Germany votes in a federal election in less than 48 hours, but Angela Merkel has better things to do than campaign; she's in Pittsburgh with the rest of the G20. Merkel is assured of a second term, but in Germany's complex system of coalition politics, the bigger question is which other parties will do well. Merkel wants to form a government with the low-tax Free Democrats, but that grouping has slipped just below 50% in the polls. "It's going to be a thriller," one political scientist tell Bloomberg.

In 2005, Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats led the liberal Social Democrats by 20 points until polling week, when her support collapsed. Since then she has presided over an awkward "grand coalition" with her rivals—imagine Republicans and Democrats in the same cabinet. Analysts say that a new pairing with the FDP would free Merkel to push through reform. But at least a quarter of the electorate remains undecided, and come Monday she could find herself leading a second motley government of right and left.