German Federal Elections: Merkel the Front Runner but is There a Shock in Store?

Over the course of the last 18 months, we’ve seen a number of instances where the political betting markets have been truly upset. In 2016, the Brexit vote in the UK, followed by the United States Presidential Election produced real shocks while it was back to Britain earlier in 2017 when, against the odds, the country returned a minority conservative government.

Those unexpected results have led to a greater interest in political betting as a whole, even though other outcomes, such as Emmanuel Macron’s victory in France, saw the odds on favourite come home. A similar situation could arise in Germany in September but, the German Federal Elections market is set to be a busy one nonetheless.

Front Runner

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Angela Merkel

The markets show a runaway leader with the CDU/CSU parties way ahead in the betting at a best price of 1/14 with Ladbrokes to win the election outright. The merger of these two parties has brought about the strongest power in Germany and the CDU/CSU are current rulers with Chancellor Angela Merkel as their leader once again in the run up to polling.

Following on from the favourites, the SPD party is second in the running at 8/1 with Coral. In the current German Bundestag, Martin Schulz’s SPD party have 116 seats less than Merkel’s ruling party and based on those stats alone, the market’s prices seem about right.

Outside Options

In terms of current seats held, there is very little to split the Greens and the Left (Die Linke), but both parties are way back in the outright betting markets. With 64 seats at present, the Left are out at 100/1 with EnergyBet and Paddy Power while the Greens, who have just one seat less at 63, seem to have no chance of being elected as they are way out at odds of 250/1 with EnergyBet.

Ahead of them are the AFD party, led by Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland. AFD are rated as 100/1 shots with Paddy Power but are as short as 25/1 elsewhere. Despite this, the party has no seats in the current parliament so why should they be ahead of those who have a representation in the current parliament?

Essentially, the AFD, when you translate this into English stands for the Alternative for Germany party. This is a far right organisation which has seen a surge in interest in the last four years and although few actually expect this to be the ruling party when the polls are counted, there should be an increase in votes and a few seats in the German Bundestag at the conclusion of these elections.

Since 2013, the party has grown on the back of their Euro-sceptic, anti-immigration stance and now has seats in the European Parliament and in 13 of Germany’s 16 state Parliaments.

The Mechanics

There are 598 seats in the German Bundestag and any party has to reach the line of 300 seats before they can claim a ruling majority. In the previous election of 2013, Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU gained 311 seats although that number has since dropped to 309.

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Martin Schulz

In second place, the SPD led by Martin Schulz, claimed 25.7% of the electorate four years ago in winning 193 seats so the market is a logical one in terms of the top two parties at least.

When a German citizen reaches the polling booth, they have two votes to cast. The first is for the district representative where the voter selects their best candidate to represent them in Parliament. The second vote goes to a party rather than an individual and, in this second vote, the parties must gain 5% of the overall national vote if they are to gain a seat in the Bundestag.

It’s a historical ruling that was introduced to eliminate the kind of splinter parties that caused issues with the Weimar Republic way back in the 1920s. This partly explains why the AFD have no current seats in Parliament but they are expected to fall the right side of the 5% rule this time around.

Other Betting Options

Aside from betting on the winning party in the German Federal Elections, your options are a little limited with a lack of side bets from across the bookies. You can speculate on the next Chancellor which is obviously very similar. While the ruling CDU/CSU party might well get in, there is no absolute guarantee that they will retain Angela Merkel as their leader.

Despite that possibility, Merkel is the runaway leader in this market at a price of 1/9 with 10Bet. The SPD’s Martin Schulz follows at odds of 13/2 with Paddy Power and then once again we have a gap to the chasing pack which is led this time by Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a former Secretary General of the Christian Socialist Union who some are tipping to return and replace Merkel.

This is a market where, potentially, there is a little more value than in the outright winner betting. Compare that 1/14 on the CDU/CSU returning to power with the 1/9 on Angela Merkel being re-elected as Chancellor and that value is obvious. With little rumour of Merkel stepping down, that could be the way to go although odds of 1/9 are nothing to really get excited about.

Political betting has always had a following but those shock outcomes in 2016 in the UK and the US certainly led to an upturn in popularity. An isolated set of punters managed to profit heavily from the success of Donald Trump and the decision for Britain to leave the EU and since then, everyone has been looking for the next shock.

It may not happen in Germany where the polls suggest that Angela Merkel will be returned as Chancellor. They have been wrong before as we know and there is a side bet associated with this market so, if you have an interest in the German Federal Elections which take place in September, it’s an interesting market with a choice of options for experienced and novice political bettors.

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