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Germany

Germany's federal election set for September 22

German President Joachim Gauck has officially set the date for the country’s next federal election. The move comes after weeks of discussions between Germany's major political parties.

President Gauck made it official on Friday, following a recommendation by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government that the national vote be held on September 22.

The Cabinet only agreed on that date after several weeks of discussions in which the Bavaria-based sister party to Merkel's conservatives, the Christian Social Union (CSU), called for the national vote to be held a week later, on September 29. The CSU wanted to put more distance in time between the Bavarian state election, which is set for September 15, and the national polls.

A number of other states opposed that idea as it would have placed the federal election on the first Sunday of their autumn school vacation, something that could hurt turnout.

Germany's constitution, the Basic Law, stipulates that a federal election must be held "no sooner than 46 and no later than 48 months after the start of the legislative period." This meant that this year's election had to be scheduled for sometime between August 28 and October 27.

While Bavaria's CSU was not thrilled with having the federal election so close to its state polls, in neighboring Hesse, the coalition of Merkel's Christian Democrats and liberal Free Democrats took a different decision. Voters there will cast their ballots in both the national and state polls on September 22.

pfd/jm (dpa, AFP)