Chancellor Angela Merkel is strongly favored to win a third term at the helm of Europe's biggest economy as Germans vote in a national election. But the popular conservative's hopes of governing with center-right allies for another four years are in the balance.
Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and its Bavaria-only sister, the Christian Social Union, appear likely to fend off a challenge Sunday from center-left rival Peer Steinbrueck.
Merkel would like to continue governing with the pro-business Free Democratic Party — but polls have shown support for them fading from nearly 15 percent in the 2009 election to around 5 percent.
If her current coalition falls short of a parliamentary majority, the likeliest outcome is a switch to a "grand coalition" of her conservatives with the Social Democrats.