Germany’s first and only federal election is underway, and the Conservatives are seeing their vote share shrink in the wake of a poor showing in a state election.
While they have gained the support of the right wing, the party’s prospects in a parliamentary election with Angela Merkel’s conservatives, and possibly even a majority, are far from great.
More on WorldViews: What are the odds of a German election this year?
The German election, scheduled for March 19, will be the first time that a party can win an outright majority in a German parliament since the late 19th century.
The party is now in third place, with 25 seats, behind the far-right Alternative for Germany, which is seeking to gain seats in the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament.
It will likely be the party that is closest to the government after Merkel’s government.
The government, which has said it will support the election results, will also likely appoint some ministers.
The country has experienced a dramatic shift in politics in recent years.
Merkel’s Christian Democrats, or CDU, lost a substantial number of seats in parliament to the Alternative for German Freedom (AfD), or AfD, but regained some of the seats they lost in the first half of 2017.
AfD is a far-left party, which rejects the European Union, the European Central Bank and many other institutions.
The German political establishment is divided between those who are supporting the AfD and those who want to see the Bundests results confirmed, which would require a change of leadership in the party.
Merkel and her CDU allies will probably need to win a majority in the vote, or even a small plurality.
The party has won three out of four German state elections this year, but it is not a large enough majority to form a government.
German elections are the most closely watched in Europe, and analysts expect that the result will be more difficult than in the United Kingdom, where the Conservatives have a narrow majority.
Merkel has pledged to hold a second election in 2022.
A new book by historian Gerd Boesinger says the chancellor, who is 86, is suffering from dementia and that she will likely suffer from a stroke before the next election.
“This election is a catastrophe for the CDU,” Boesingser told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
“I have been telling her many times that this election is not going to happen.”
The German elections are a key test of whether the CDUs ruling coalition is able to maintain its hold on power in a country that is seen as an increasingly divided nation.
The opposition parties are expected to come close to the CDUP’s lead, but the CDUT will also win the majority.
The AfD won just over 5 percent of the vote in 2017, and it is currently on course to take 17 percent of votes in the state elections.