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Elections

Germany likely to vote on September 22 next year

Several reports in Germany, citing sources in Berlin, have floated the probable date for next year's federal election. According to die Zeit, Bild, DPA and others, September 22 could be election day in Germany.

Several German news outlets reported on Wednesday that next year's federal election would likely take place on September 22, citing government sources in Berlin.

Weekly newspaper Die Zeit, one of the first to raise the possibility, wrote that it believed the German political parties and then Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet would approve the date. The cabinet previously said, however, that it did not plan on approving an election date before the end of the calendar year.

Once approved by the parties and the cabinet, President Joachim Gauck must confirm any potential election date for it to be official.

The following Sunday, September 29, was also considered a strong contender - with approval from regional powerhouse Bavaria. Bavaria holds state elections on September 15, and the conservative government was hoping to ensure a two-week break between the ballots.

This later date was not favored by the main opposition Social Democrats (SPD), primarily because it would coincide with the start of the autumn school holidays in the SPD-run states of Hamburg, Berlin and Brandenburg.

Germany traditionally votes on Sundays.

Mark the date in pencil only

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry sounded a note of caution when speaking to the dapd news agency on Wednesday, though, saying that while all German states had submitted their preferred dates, their desires differed.

"A verified desired date for all the states is not known to us," Philipp Spauschus told dapd.

A deadline for the German states to submit their preferences passed earlier this month.

The latest major poll by public broadcaster ARD, released earlier in November based on October research, put Merkel's Christian Democrats comfortably in the overall single-party lead. The opposition Social Democrats and Greens combined, however, poll at an almost identical level to Merkel's current coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats.

Neither of these more obvious alliances fared strongly enough in the survey to secure the majority required to form a coalition government - both boasting around 45 percent support.

msh/hc (AFP, dpa, dapd)