On 22 September 2013, Germans cast their votes to determine their next government. The outcome of this election, however, has consequences for people far beyond the borders of Germany. Early polls suggest that the leading Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which has been governing in coalition with the Free Democrats (FDP) since 2009 and prior to that in a 'grand coalition' with the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), has a comfortable lead over it's closest rival. Angela Merkel, the steady and respected Chancellor, has a two thirds approval rating among voters though this doesn't necessarily translate into votes for her party due to Germany's complex voting system. Her opposite number, the gaffe prone Peer Steinbrueck, commands much less voter affection and people worry about having a Social Democrat government in the middle of a recession, even though Germany has weathered the recent crisis far better than the rest of the Euro-zone and other European countries.
Political commentators point out that Germany's political landscape is the most fragmented it has been since the Second World War, with the left vote split between the SPD and 'Die Linke', a successor party to remnants of East German socialist parties and the Piratenpartei (Pirate Party), whose main platform is a campaign for greater internet freedom gleaning the young protest vote dissatisfied with mainstream politics. The Greens, in parliament since the 1990s and in government between 1998 and 2005, remain a strong force but are unlikely to work with the CDU in any future coalition.
The make up of Germany's next administration will have wide ranging effects on the future of the Euro, still troubled by years of financial instability, and the fate of Euro zone countries such as Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus, that have largely depended on Germany money to bail them out. Stefan Boness followed all the leading politicians as they traverse the country, drumming up votes and trying to convince Germans that their future is best served by what claim to offer.