Opinion polls in Germany leave little doubt that Chancellor Angela Merkel will remain in her post after today’s election.
But what’s uncertain is whether she and her centre-right party can form a coalition with her partner of choice, the FDP liberal democrats.
If that possibility fails to materialize then the option of continuing the so-called Grand Coalition with the Socialist SPD looms larger.
And the prospect of another awkward alliance between these traditional rivals for the next four years appeals to neither party.
The SPD, led by its candidate for Chancellor, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, lags nine or ten points behind Merkel in the latest polls. She has accused the Socialists of planning to hike taxes while she favours reducing them.
A cut in taxes is part of the FDP’s political programme. The liberal party led by Guido Westerwelle is seen as pro- business.
More than 60 million Germans are eligible to vote today. Security remains a big concern.
Police are on high alert around the country following threats by al Quaeda that Germany would suffer consequences if it votes for parties that support the west’s military intervention in Afghanistan. More than 4,000 German troops are currently deployed there.