Angela Merkel’s poll lead in Germany’s election campaign is so wide that interviewers already are asking her to preview the next government. While the chancellor persistently avoids the question, the range of possible ruling coalitions after the Sept. 24 vote is likely to be the broadest yet.With Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union-led bloc ahead and Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats polling second, the wide-open race for third place is “the most exciting feature” and could have a key influence on German policy toward Europe, ING-Diba economist Carsten Brzeski said in a note.“All potential coalitions have their pitfalls and would be more difficult to push through than before,” partly because two of the three possible partners are already “traumatized” by serving in Merkel-led governments, said Oskar Niedermayer, a political scientist at Berlin’s Free University, who has researched German parties since the 1970s. Here’s a look at the main scenarios if Merkel wins a mandate for a fourth term:
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