Over the past week, we now know the SPD candidate to run against Chancellor Merkel....former finance minister....Peer Steinbrueck. A familiar name? Yes, during the last joint SPD-CDU government.....with Merkel in charge, Peer Steinbrueck ended up running the financial side of the joint government.
The selling point on Steinbrueck is that polls tend to suggest swing voters (the critical voting crowd of Germany)....might lean more to Steinbrueck than Merkel. Toss in the fact that the FDP may not even get five percent of the national vote this time.....and Merkel might be in a weakened state....maybe enough to lose.
A dynamic character with Steinbrueck? I wouldn't say that really fits him or his speeches. He does well and doesn't screw up in debates or public appearances.
A hot election? Well....the thing in this election will end up being how well the Greens and the Pirate Party do. Both might pull ten percent in the election and end up being major players in the next government (either with Steinbrueck or with Merkel). So folk will be watching the smaller parties this time around....more than the bigger parties. Just my humble opinion.
As an American watching from the outside....you have to admire three things about German elections.
First, there are multiple parties at play, and their positions tend to attract attention from the media. So the two big parties can't act like idiots (like Republicans and Democrats). In a group of one hundred voters....the value of just twelve guys switching over to a third-party group could harm the top two greatly.
Second, you rarely if ever get into a German situation where some sudden affair or financial screw-up taints one candidate and destroys his chances.
Third, and final....you just don't get that many, if any, TV commercials for the candidates. Once or twice a week....there might a five-minute period where the state-run TV network offers a free opportunity for all the parties running candidates to have a 30-second ad. You can actually turn on a TV and almost forget there's an election thirty days away.