With three days to go until Germany’s elections, the number of undecided voters appears to have shrunk dramatically, adding further pressure on outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives as they attempt to catch the Social Democrats (SPD).
When pollsters YouGov asked voters whether they had made a final decision on whom they will vote for in the Bundestag election, 74 per cent said yes.
In the poll released on Thursday, 15 per cent of respondents said they would make a final choice later, 9 per cent did not specify and 1 per cent said they didn’t know.
Earlier surveys indicated that a third or even as many as 40 per cent of voters were undecided – a point emphasized this week by candidates including the Greens’ Annalena Baerbock.
Although her party has slumped to a distant third, according to the polls, Baerbock is still hoping for a record result for the Greens.
As for which party they would vote for, the numbers have changed little in the past week. The Social Democrats remained in first place with 25 per cent, followed by the CDU/CSU conservative bloc with 21 per cent, and the Greens were in third place with 14 per cent.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party received 12 per cent, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) 11 per cent, and the far-left Die Linke party 7 per cent.
Although election polls are only a snapshot of opinion at the time of the survey and are not a forecast of election outcomes, the order of the top parties has not changed since late August.
A tight result is expected when Germans go to the polls on Sunday, with Merkel’s conservatives at risk of being kicked out of power after nearly 16 years.
The head of the SPD, Norbert Walter-Borjans, indicated as much on Thursday when he said he expected both the first and second-placed parties to explore coalition options.
There have been times in the past when “the SPD was not the strongest force in parliament, but put together a coalition which had a majority,” he said.
The government under then chancellor Helmut Schmidt in 1976-80 is the most-cited example: it comprised Schmidt’s SPD – which came second in the elections – and the Free Democrats.
When it comes to three-way coalitions, Germans have to look further back to the times of the post-war political giant, Konrad Adenauer. From 1949, he led three consecutive coalitions of the conservative CDU/CSU bloc, the FDP and the Deutsche Partei (German Party).
Later on Thursday, the leading candidates from all the parties currently represented in the Bundestag take part in a final televised debate.
After three debates featuring only the three candidates for chancellor – from the CDU/CSU, the SPD and the Greens – this is a chance for the smaller parties to get their voice heard.