Germany votes on Sunday, with the latest polls suggesting that Angela Merkel will earn a fourth term as chancellor. A year ago, that outcome seemed in doubt, notes an analysis at Vox, thanks to Merkel's welcoming policy on refugees from Syria and elsewhere. So why is Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union party seemingly poised for another win? The short version is that "the world is a scary place," writes Sarah Wildman. And Merkel, who is sometimes called "Mutti," or Mommy, "is a comforting hand on the tiller."
- Far-right milestone: Maybe the most notable facet of the election is the surge in popularity of the far-right Alternative for Germany party. Known for its anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, and anti-EU positions, the AfD is poised to become the first far-right party in Germany's parliament since the end of World War II. (It's polling at about 11%, good for a third-place finish, reports CNBC.) As Politico explains, it has virtually no chance of joining any governing coalition, but it has a very good chance of turning into a "fixture of German politics."
- Real winner? Amplifying the above, the Washington Post thinks the "real winner" of Sunday's vote won't be Merkel but the AfD, destined to pick up a decent number of seats. "The party panders to a grab-bag of conservative impulses, giving a political home to climate-deniers, Euroskeptics, xenophobes, and chauvinists tired of Germany having to atone for the Holocaust," writes Ishaan Tharoor. But Merkel's open-door policy for refugees is most responsible for its newfound popularity.
- Think Ikea: Merkel already has outlasted three US presidents, four British, four French, and six Italian leaders, reports the Guardian. Its analysis suggests that the key to her political longevity might be her sort of "Ikea principle" when it comes to governing. As a former adviser to Merkel puts it, there's "something for everybody. She is a store no one would be ashamed to be seen shopping in."
- Where's Russia? The New York Times notes that there is virtually no sign of interference from Russian hackers and bogus news stories. The story explores why that might be, including the possibility that the Kremlin is rethinking its cyber-strategy.
- 2 votes: Every German voter actually casts two ballots, one for a local representative in the Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, and the other for a party, explains NPR. The story has a nuts-and-bolts look at the process, as well as the many possible outcomes for a coalition government.
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