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Germany Holds Federal Elections Sunday, Merkel Poised to Win

German voters are casting ballots Sunday to select new parliament members.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-left party (CDU/CSU) is poised to get the most votes, which puts her in a position to win another four-year term in office.

But Ms. Merkel's current coalition may not win the absolute majority needed to form a government and she may have to seek alliance with another group.

Klaus Larres, professor of international relations at the University of north Carolina says Ms. Merkel's current pro-business partners, the Free Democrats, are losing voter support and that Ms. Merkel may seek partnership with the Social Democrats (SPD), led by her current rival, Peer Steinbrueck.

"Social Democrats will get round about 25-28 percent, probably just under 30 percent of the vote. So if she formed a coalition with the leader of Social Democrats, Steinbrueck, she of course, would have a huge majority in parliament, that is the so-called Grand Coalition and both together would well be able to govern."

Chancellor Merkel formed a grand coalition with the Social Democrats in her first term that began in 2005. But if the Social Democrats win enough seats on their own in Sunday's election, they could form a coalition with the Greens and force her out of office.

If she stays in power, Ms. Merkel will become one of postwar Germany's longest-serving political leaders.

On Saturday, the last day of campaigning before election, Ms. Merkel urged voters to give her a strong support.

"I ask the people in Germany to give me a strong mandate, so that I can continue to serve Germany for another four years, for a stronger Germany, a country which is well respected in Europe, which defends its interests, but is also a friend of a lot of countries."

Meanwhile, her rival, Mr. Steinbrueck, spent his final days on the road trying to convince voters that Ms. Merkel has stifled economic growth in the southern Eurozone states by insisting on far-reaching spending cuts. He urged voters Saturday not to pay to much attention to the polls.

"Still believe it. The voters decide - not commentary beforehand, not clairvoyance and it's not a game. Don't believe it's decided yet - it isn't. I would ask for the voters' decision to be respected, because it's them, not political polls or certain observers, who decide an election."

Germany is Europe's strongest economy and the election will be closely watched across the continent. In southern Europe -- and especially, Greece -- Germany continues to be vilified as the country that has forced austerity on the European Union, and many single out Chancellor Merkel.

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