INTERNATIONAL

German Elections : Voters Decide Who Will Take Charge After Merkel

The Germans are bracing for one of the most unpredictable elections in its recent history, with the race being wide open for conservatives and the center-left, as Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to step down after her 16-year reign.

Opinion polls show the race for the Chancellery headed for a photo finish, with Merkel's CDU-CSU conservative alliance on around 23 percent, just behind the centre-left social democrats on 25 percent -- well within the margin of error.

Nico Siegel, Head of the Infratest Dimap polling company said, despite the SPD'S lead in the polls, a victory for the conservatives "can't be ruled out".

Around 40 percent of Germany's 60.4 million eligible voters have said they are undecided, while the same proportion has already cast their ballots by post -- including merkel herself.

The battle for the Chancellery has boiled down to a contest between two men: finance minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf scholz, 63, of the spd, and armin laschet, 60, of the CDU-CSU.