Berlin [Germany], September 26 (ANI/Xinhua): German voters are casting ballots on Sunday for a new parliament that will decide the successor for Chancellor Angela Merkel, after her 16-year rule of Europe's largest economy.
Latest pre-election polls showed that this would be a very tight race between the ruling German Christian Democratic Union (CDU)/Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Social Democratic Party (SPD).
None of the parties running for the federal parliament, the Bundestag, is expected to secure 30 per cent of the votes, according to pre-election polls, which might lead to a coalition of at least three parties.
Around 60,000 polling stations across the country opened at 8:00 a.m. and will close at 6:00 p.m. local time.
Around 2.8 million citizens are first-time voters and a total of 60.4 million citizens are eligible to vote, according to the Federal Returning Officer.
German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier cast his ballot at a polling station in Berlin Sunday morning. He voiced appreciation for approximately 650,000 volunteers for the election.
Armin Laschet, the CDU/CSU chancellor candidate and also minister-president of the North Rhine-Westphalia state, voted at his place of residence in Aachen.
Laschet said the general election would decide Germany's direction in the next few years. "And that's why every vote counts," he said outside the polling station.
Olaf Scholz, incumbent vice-chancellor and the federal government's minister of finance and the SPD's chancellor candidate, voted at a polling station in Potsdam.
He asked the Germans to vote for his party, "so that the citizens give me the mandate to become the next Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany."
Other parties in the current Bundestag, including the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), the Green Party, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the leftist Die Linke, are likely to cross the five per cent threshold for entering the parliament, according to various polls.
At least 40 per cent of eligible voters might cast their ballots by post, compared to 28.6 per cent in the last election in 2017, according to the Federal Returning Officer. (ANI/Xinhua)