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The latest opinion polls from Germany do confirm Merkel should emerge as the leader of the largest party, with the best chance of being Chancellor. Many Germans regard her as soft, while many admire her refugee policies.

To talk about these upcoming elections, we're joined now by NPR's Berlin correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson.

Merkel's expected success, setting up her fourth term in office, isn't a surprise, but the real question will be who she will take into coalition with her.

To be sure, Dengler wishes that Merkel would reduce the regulatory burden on German companies-which face an average corporate tax rate of 14.5 percent-although he doesn't expect that she will. That's just not done here. This decision [on the opening of the borders] should have been taken by the Bundestag. The centrist German parties have little to differentiate between them.

STEFAN KORNELIUS: Suddenly and surprisingly Merkel has become a very polarizing figure.

Among the issues that have come up for vigorous debates are immigration, economy and unity of EU, Russia and security, transatlantic relations with US, NATO, Turkey's EU membership etc. It may also mean that there are six parties in parliament, which makes putting together a coalition challenging. Any idea who with? Merkel is a known quantity with an aura of stability and calmness, which is valued by her partners in Brussels (EU's capital) and elsewhere.

In 2016, Germany admitted more than one million Syrian immigrants, setting off a wave of anti-immigration sentiment that threatened to overwhelm Merkel's political power.

If pollsters are correct, Angela Merkel will secure her place at the helm of German politics for what will be a total of 16 years following Sunday's election results.

One reason is German political parties are afraid to use the most cutting-edge election campaign tools, anxious that voter data will be stored outside of Germany - a practice frowned upon within the country.

Domestically, Merkel likely will have to cope with the emergence of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party, which is expected to garner enough votes in Sunday's elections to gain several seats in the Bundestag, Germany's parliament. With the future after 2021 so unpredictable, the next four years are likely to be used to prepare the ground for a new era of electoral battles in Germany.

Whereas Merkel's approach to politics could be summarized under the slogan "no experiments", it is a promise that has a long history in her CDU.

Merkel chose Munich in the midst of the Octoberfest beer festival as the venue for her last campaign rally on Friday where she and CSU leader Horst Seehofer exchanged compliments and Merkel acknowledged the CSU sensitivity on the subject of asylum seekers and the Bavarian party's desire to see a limit of 200,000 applications each year. That's obvious from the ABC of all things German she published in Bild. She lives modestly in Berlin, and she actually does her grocery shopping herself. "But it would be professional suicide and I will never see my grandchildren again", confessed another anonymous German voter.

CHANG: Oh, imagine that.

That's probably more than you wanted to know, isn't it?

Germany will miss a European Union renewable energy target by a wider margin than previously predicted, a study showed on Wednesday.

"I don't think it will have an impact". But Merkel has also made it clear that she's not interested in shutting the door entirely on the Trump administration.

Two years ago, it looked like German Chancellor Angela Merkel was done for.

"So far we have not been able to track down any specific Russian activity", said Simon Hegelich, a professor of political science data at the Technical University of Munich.

CHANG: All right. That's NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson.


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