Merkel Expected To Win Fourth Term In Germany Despite Far-Right Disruption

Cem Özdemir may become Germany's foreign minister- media

While mainstream parties have ruled out including the AfD in any governing coalition, it is poised to be the first far-right party to enter Germany's parliament in over half a century.

But since 2013, the CDU and its sister party the Bavarian Christian Social Union, have been in a coalition with their main rivals, the Social Democrats. It has been helped by shrill opposition to Merkel's decision to allow in large numbers of refugees and immigrants in 2015, which has caused chaos across the continent.

The AfD will not enjoy any actual political power because they are considered beyond the pale and will not be included in any governing coalition.

Voters have consistently backed Ms Merkel in opinion polls. But the "stunning historical persistence" noted by researchers Davide Cantonmi, Felix Hagemeister and Mark Westscott in the AfD voting patterns speaks to Merkel's point: The more things change, the more they stay the same. The party was also plagued by infighting, further blunting its appeal.

If you ask Germans whether there is a local version of the American dream, they may refer self-deprecatingly to an old ad for the Sparkasse, the network of savings banks: "My house".

The AfD, meanwhile, stuck to its extremist anti-Merkel, anti-establishment playbook.

Led by Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland, just 15 percent of their members are women.

Hegelich and other researchers said anonymous trolls have been spreading right-wing themes to German voters through YouTube, 4chan, Reddit and other social media platforms.

"Given the prospect that the AfD could finish third on Sunday, this strategy can only be described as a spectacular failure", Jasper von Altenbockum, politics editor at the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, concluded this week, arguing that the insults have only mobilized the AfD's base. "Italian elections in the spring are likely to cause political and financial turbulence along the way, and eventually produce a hung parliament".

"In our view, the outcome of the German election could have implications for the balance of power in the EU, especially in the Franco-German relationship", says David Zahn, head of European fixed income at Franklin Templeton investments.

In theory, there should be no shortage of issues ahead of the German election, such as slow progress in the country's turn toward renewables, demographic change, and the enormous challenge of assimilating over 1 million asylum seekers or refugees who arrived over the past years.

As Germany heads to polls this Sunday, the sense of normality around the election is nearly unnatural.

Martin Schulz [the Social Democrat] is not bad. The party "focuses less on constructive and consensus-oriented work", he says.

Here too, the AfD appears to have benefited from its outsider image.

The economic results of her governance are evident, although she initially only continued the reforms of her predecessor and brought nothing new. At the same time, they are the most able to engage their electoral base: on average, AfD tweets are retweeted seven times, whereas tweets by other parties' candidates only resonate (on average) 1,66 times (see Figure 2).

German Press Agency dpa and public service broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk plan to stay on top of potential fake news stories this weekend using Truly Media, a platform developed by tech company Athens Technology Center in Greece and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. She has also introduced tough measures to clamp down on and deport rejected asylum-seekers. From the threat of collapse of the eurozone to pressures from Russian Federation and her handling of the refugee crisis, Mr Kornelius said Ms Merkel had been able "to close the ranks, keep Europe together and prevent it from slipping apart" and that she meant to do the same with Brexit.