What Time Is The German Election, Who Will Win, And How Can You Watch?

Germans go to the polls on Sunday to elect the members of their federal parliament, or Bundestag, and thereby decide who’ll run the country as chancellor for the next several years.

Here’s everything you need to know to keep track of what’s going on.

Who’s running?

Angela Merkel, the current chancellor, and her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), are supported by their sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), which only stands in the state of Bavaria.

The pair, referred to as the “union,” are considered the favorites, having been consistently well ahead in the polls for the whole campaign. At the moment, they’re on about 36 percent. Of course, this is 2017, so we’re ruling nothing out...

Martin Schulz and his center-left Social Democrats (SPD) are the other possible victors. They’re polling at about 22 percent.

Then there are several significant smaller parties. One or more of these could actually end up in government, since whoever wins will probably have to form a coalition.

The Greens are environmentalists, but relatively centrist compared to other eco-parties around the world. They’re polling around 8 percent of the vote, lowest among the significantly-sized parties.

The Free Democrats (FDP) are centrist classical liberals with a pro-business platform. They’re considered the natural coalition partners to Merkel’s conservative CDU and are polling at around 10 percent.

The Left Party is a distant descendent of the old East German communist party (though it is now a democratic socialist party committed to the German parliamentary system), and is consequently especially popular in the North East of the country. It is polling around 9 percent, but historically parties of the left and the right have both declined to enter into coalition with it.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) is a hard-right, anti-Islam party with ties to the likes of France’s National Front and Britain’s UKIP. No other parties will work with it, and it seems to have lost some popularity since the start of the year, but it could still end up as the largest of the smaller parties, which would be a shock to Germany’s centrist establishment.

What time are results?

Polls close at 6pm local time (12pm EST), and right away there will be a projection of results, which is normally considered accurate; it is similar to the results projects that proved relatively reliable in the French election back in May.

These projections will then be updated as results come in throughout the night. We should have a final call by around 3am local time (9pm EST.)

How can I watch?

If you want to follow the action yourself but aren’t in Germany and/or don’t speak German, the broadcaster Deutsche Welle has a great English-language service and will be covering the news as it happens.

You can watch it via its website.