UK & World News
German Election: Angela Merkel's Lead Tightens
Angela Merkel's coalition government is trapped in a statistical dead heat with an alliance of opposition groups on the day before polls open in the federal election.
The German chancellor has governed since 2009 with the liberal, pro-business party Free Democrats (FDP), led by her foreign minister Guido Westerwelle.
But he has presided over a significant fall in support during the euro crisis, with some polls putting the FDP below the 5% threshold needed to enter the national parliament, or Bundestag.
Meanwhile the rise of the anti-euro AfD, or Alternative for Germany party, could steal votes away from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), making a so-called Grand Coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) essential to govern.
Ms Merkel's main opponent Peer Steinbrueck of the SPD has stepped up his attacks on the chancellor, accusing her of leading an inept government, incapable of dealing with the debt crisis.
While the German leader has been demonised abroad for her approach to the euro crisis, it has been bread and butter issues which have dominated the election campaign.
Tax, child benefits, healthcare and pensions have all trumped the euro crisis and foreign policy on the campaign trail.
In recent days attention has focused on whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations that the US National Security Agency spied on German citizens.
Surveillance is a touchy subject in Germany for obvious reasons, and the SPD have been attacking Ms Merkel for appearing unperturbed when the scandal broke.
Opposition parties have also accused Ms Merkel of stealing popular measures from other parties' manifestos in order to neutralise their appeal at the polls.
She finally agreed to a minimum wage in certain professions, which was pushed by the SPD, and also staged a remarkable volte-face over energy, by announcing she would phase out all German nuclear power reactors by 2022.
That was supported by the Greens.
But despite the occasional sparkler, this campaign has been short of fireworks to enthuse and excite the electorate.