The real race in this month’s German election is for third place. Angela Merkel looks unassailable in her position as the “eternal Chancellor”, and Germany is seemingly heading for a third “Grand Coalition” between the Christian Democrats (CDU), with its Bavarian sister-party the CSU, and Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats (SPD). But a breakthrough by one of the minor parties could make things more interesting. While the far-right Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) is unfit for government, and a messy coalition between the SDP, Greens and left-wing Die Linke is unlikely, the revived Free Democrat Party (FDP) is best placed to shake up the cosy state of affairs. The FDP is the party of Germany’s Mittelstand (small businesses), and under its charismatic leader, Christian Lindner, espouses liberal and entrepreneur-focused policies. A CDU-FDP-Green coalition is a real possibility to allow Merkel to govern without the SDP.
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