BERLIN, Sep. 22 (Xinhua) -- Germans began to cast their ballots Sunday morning in a parliamentary election that will decide who will run Europe's largest economy for the next four years.
About 80,000 polling stations set in schools and other public buildings opened at 8:00 a.m. (0700 GMT) and another 10,000 stations will receive postal voting until 18:00 (1700 GMT).
Some 61.8 million voters were called to go to ballot boxes, and 34 parties will compete for seats in the Bundestag, lower house of German parliament.
Official data shows that a total of 4,451 PM candidates, including 1,149 women, has listed for the election on Sunday. The youngest candidate was born in 1995, and the oldest in 1923.
For months, parties have been promoting themselves via various campaigns and posters in almost every street of the country.
Since early this month, a gaint poster over 1000 square meters featuring incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel's symbolic "rhombus" gesture has been standing at Berlin center railway station, hundreds of meters away from the chancellor's office. Another orange poster beside read "Germany's future in good hands".
In the election, the ruling coalition consisting of Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party Christian Social Union (CSU) and the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) faces challenges from another major party, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and its preferred partner, the Greens.
In recent polls, CDU/CSU union was in a leading postion. Its partner FDP, however, was wiggling around the 5 percent threshold to enter the parliament.
"The election is very important for Germany's future," said a female lawyer who came early to a school ballot station in southeast Berlin where German president Joachim Gauck is scheduled to vote at 9:30 (0830 GMT). "I think the result will be a grand coalition between CDU/CSU and SPD," said the middle-aged, refusing to give her name.
In the election on Sunday, each voters could cast two ballots: the first for a constituency candidate to represent his constituency in the parliament, the second for a party.
Half of the 598 parliament seats would be decided by the first ballots, while each party's overall seats in the parliament would be allocated according to the share of second ballots obtained.
A ruling party or coalition needs a majority of seats in the legislature.
Merkel is scheduled to cast her ballots in center Berlin at 13:30 (1230 GMT). Her main rival, SPD chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrueck will vote at 9:30 (0830 GMT) in Bonn.
Exit polls results by research institutes are expected to be published shortly after the close of ballot stations at 18:00 (1700 GMT). Official provisional result, however, is scheduled to be released early Monday morning.
BERLIN, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to voters on Friday for votes as latest polls suggest a highly suspenseful election on Sunday although she looked on track to win a third term.
Merkel sent letters to about five million voters on Friday to appeal for their votes, saying that Germany has had four good years and she also wants the next four years to be good. Full story
BERLIN, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- German election campaign entered the final phase with five days to go until the Sunday federal election, as opinion polls indicate a highly suspenseful race with Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition running head-to-head with major opposition parties.
A survey released Tuesday by polling institute Forsa showed Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party CSU held steady at 39 percent, while its junior coalition partner the Free Democrats (FDP) lost a point to five percent. Full story