World Bulletin / News Desk
A week before German elections, the storied Free Democratic Party looks set to recover from a historic 2013 defeat and return to parliament -- where it could make Berlin a much more awkward partner for its European neighbours.
That may ensure that mounting momentum behind reform of the bloc breaks on resistance from Berlin.
Stakes are high in an election race where the winner seems certain and all eyes are on four smaller parties, each polling around 10 percent.
With Merkel's party far ahead in the polls, but unlikely to gain an absolute majority, the chancellor will need to partner with one or more of the smaller parties -- unless she wants to continue a loveless 'grand coalition' with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).
She has ruled out working with the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), or with the far-left Die Linke, which leaves the FDP and Greens battling for a potential junior role.
FDP secretary-general Nicola Beer says the goal is clear: "The decisive question for this election will be which party is the third largest."
Cautious Merkel has left her options open, signalling to both the pro-business FDP and the left-leaning Greens that there could be a place for them at the cabinet table after the September 24 vote.
If the FDP joined a CDU government, eurozone reform would be "dead in the water," economist Christian Odendahl of the Centre for European Reform said, labelling it "the most dangerous coalition for the euro."Last Mod: 18 Eylül 2017, 14:12