BERLIN, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks set to win a third term as the country's 62 million voters go to the polls on Sunday, with the only question being whether her coalition government will survive the election.
"Merkel is very, very likely to be re-elected as German chancellor," said Oskar Niedermayer, politics professor of Berlin Free University, as her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party Christian Social Union (CSU) are set to be the biggest force in the lower house of parliament.
However, it is difficult to predict the exact results of the election as about one third of German voters do not make up their decisions until the last days before the election, Niedermayer told Xinhua, adding that the CDU/CSU's 40 percent support in opinion polls will make it retain the leading position.
Merkel is widely lauded at home for her motherliness and pragmaticism, maintaining her position as the most popular politician in Germany. An earlier poll by state broadcaster ARD suggested that Merkel claims a 68-percent approval rating among voters, and another opinion poll by public TV station ZDF showed that 60 percent of respondents preferred Merkel as their chancellor.
Merkel's leadership is marked by pragmaticism with no grand visions or ideologies, Niedermayer said, adding that she sees politics as a problem-solving process and often waits to see the attitudes of the public before responding to many issues.
"It seems that this governing style is accepted by the German public. Merkel seems to be successful in setting up a motherly image in the nation, which makes her unassailable for rivals," he said.
Niedermayer said the main achievement of the Merkel administration lies in the fact that it made Germany sail through the eurozone debt crisis largely unscathed with no job cuts and tax hikes.
Fifty-nine-year-old Merkel's domestic popularity owes much to sticking to principles in dealing with the eurozone debt crisis, including pressing indebted eurozone members to carry out austerity measures and reforms.
Gravity-defying German economic performance during the crisis also helped boost support for the Merkel administration.
Despite Merkel's personal popularity, the coalition government formed by the CDU and the Free Democrats (FDP) hangs in the balance as opinion polls indicate a highly suspenseful race.
Recent surveys showed that the CDU/CSU bloc held steady at 39 percent,while the FDP hovers around 5 percent. This means Merkel's coalition may not reach a combined majority in the election.
Should the FDP fail to garner 5 percent minimum support for entering the lower house of parliament, Merkel may be forced to form a coalition with opposition challenger Peer Steinbrueck's center-left Social Democrats.