With a middle finger gesture of Chancellor Angela Merkel's rival for the Chancellery stirring up the campaign, the largest economy in Europe and the purported saviour of a Europe in deep crisis goes to the polls on September 22. Merkel, largely seen as the undisputed leader of her country, has seen her lead during the campaign vary though she is much ahead of her closest rival, the Social Democratic Party's (SPD) Peer Steinbrueck.
It was Steinbrueck who courted controversy by appearing on a magazine cover with his middle finger prominently out. Merkel is in contention for the Chancellor's job for the third time after having served two terms, the last of which saw her ride out an economic storm that hit European nations in the form of a debilitating debt crisis. Merkel's role was lauded for not letting her nation being hit by the crisis. It was she who stonewalled all talk of the Euro collapsing when the downturn was at its worse.
In Sunday's election Merkel's party Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Socialist Union (CSU) and the Free Democratic Party are in an alliance pitted against the SPD. Other players include the Greens, Pirate Party and the anti-Euro Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Germans saw a largely muted campaign in the beginning but it started getting more excited as the election date approached. Merkel's Conservatives decided to change tack just four days ahead of the vote, lashing out at the AfD. The CDU had ignored the small party during the campaign. But in a sudden volte face, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble lashed out at the AfD for their anti-Euro stance.
Whether it be Steinbrueck's finger or Schaeuble's ripping into eurosceptics, it seems Germans are in for a close call in this vote.