If Angela Merkel wins next years elections, she will become Germanys second-longest-serving postwar chancellor after Helmut Kohl – and be heading towards becoming Europes longest-serving female head of government, eclipsing Margaret Thatcher.
Such a political triumph is not about to get any easier. Merkel could yet fall foul of the euroszone turmoil. And then there is also the fact that Germanys political landscape has become more fragmented than at any time since the end of the second world war.
"Germany is not becoming ungovernable, but its definitely becoming harder to form governments," said Hans Kundnani, a Germany analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
Five to six parties have been competing for seats in the Bundestag since East and West Germany were reunited in 1990, including the Christian Democrats; their Bavarian sister party, the CSU; the pro-business FDP; the Greens; and the PDS or Party of Democratic Socialism – later to become Die Linke, (the Left). Next year, a new force will try to join the mix, an upstart party called the Pirates, which has made striking gains in four state elections so far.
The next German federal election will be an election to determine the 598 (or more) members of the 18th Bundestag, the federal parliament of Germany.
If it is a regular election, it will be held on a Sunday or holiday between 1 September and 27 October 2013. However, it might be held earlier under certain or later under exceptional circumstances.
In the last federal election in 2009, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU); its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU); and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) won the election with Angela Merkel as Chancellor and Guido Westerwelle as Vice-Chancellor. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) however suffered its worst defeat, SPD leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier conceded and announced his intention to become head of the opposition in the Bundestag.