The election campaign has entered its decisive phase. On 22 September 2013, about 61.8 million eligible German voters will be called upon to cast their votes for the 18th German Parliament. The election campaign has been dominated by the leading candidates of the two major parties, Angela Merkel (CDU) and Peer Steinbrück (SPD). Yet it is not the frontrunners who are directly elected, but candidates of a party in the relevant constituency (the first vote) and the party (the second vote). The second votes are the basis for the number of seats a party holds in the Bundestag. Depending on the distribution of mandates, the parties enter into coalitions, since the German electoral system makes it difficult for a single party to form the government. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a continuation of the existing coalition consisting of the CDU/CSU and the FDP, but does not rule out a grand coalition with the SPD. Peer Steinbrück has been pushing for a coalition with the Greens.
Currently, six parties are represented in the Bundestag: the CDU/CSU, the SPD, the FDP, the Greens and the Left Party. Seeking election to the next German Parliament are a total of 34 parties and 4,451 election candidates. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), stand for peace in freedom and for a social market economy. The core values of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) are freedom, justice and solidarity. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) advocates, in case of doubt, freedom before security, market instead of state and the individual instead of the community. The policies of the Alliance 90/The Greens focus on questions of ecology, civil and human rights and the democratizing of society. The Left Party, the successor party of the former single state party of the GDR, represents the goal of democratic socialism and sees itself rooted in the tradition of the labour movement.
Elections to the 18th German Parliament, 22 September