The hard-right, anti-Muslim Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is set to enter the parliament for the first time.
Should Merkel and her main challenger, Martin Schulz, agree to continue governing in a "grand coalition" between the two strongest parties, the AfD could lead the opposition in the Bundestag, a role that traditionally carries additional privileges, such as the presidency of the parliament's budget committee. But the shape of her coalition is wide open. Informal soundings and then exploratory talks precede formal coalition negotiations and party leaders may also seek approval from their members before signing off on any deal.
The most likely option, according to opinion polls.
Germany is going to the polls on Sunday in an election widely predicted to return the nation's current leader to power in the Bundestag, or parliament.
But the play on words can backfire, as Social Democratic candidate Thomas Krueger learned the same year. The SPD is trailing behind at 22 percent, while the anti-immigration AfD holds 10 percent.
Hurdles: It is a last resort for both sides, especially the SPD, which fears it will lose out as junior partner.
The prospect of another German grand coalition government with Mr Schulz as Ms Merkel's ardently pro-EU vice-chancellor would be bad news for Britain's Brexit aspirations. Most of the voters live in North Rhine-Westphalia (13.1 million) and the least in Saarland (800,000).
Those who describe this election as tiresome, this campaign as lacklustre, miss the fact that something really significant is happening here.
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As yet untested at a federal level, this combination rules in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. But months of wrangling is expected and, depending on numbers, Mrs Merkel may engineer the inclusion of the Greens in a "Jamaica" coalition.
The researcher of the Stockholm based Institute for Security & Development Policy (ISDP), Julian Tucker, gives an additional perspective which goes beyond the European Union per se.
"If the SPD did enter another a coalition with Merkel this year, it would cost us a lot of support which could be really damaging for the next election in 2021", he said. The party was founded in 1980 with a strictly environmentalist and pacifist platform. The Greens would push for a phaseout of coal-fired power stations. The Madrid government is seeking to arrest the elected political leaders in Catalonia and to ban the referendum they have planned for 1 October on Catalan independence. They have a leftist agenda on tax and social policy. Clashes are also likely on some aspects of energy policy and auto emissions regulation following the diesel scandal.
The BEE renewable energy association's analysis found that energy from green sources would account for 16 percent of German power consumption by 2020, short of an European Union target of 18 percent for Germany. Merkel will probably be remembered for her political longevity but also for placing ethical considerations above ideological concerns.
Passersby walking down the street in just about every German city, town or village get a detailed look at who is running in their district and a condensed version of their campaign messages.
Participants of the pre-election party told Sputnik that they believe that all pledges by the Alliance 90 would be executed. It is being tested in the state of Berlin under SPD leadership and, with a Left premier, in the state of Thuringia. Merkel's bloc took 41.5 percent nationwide last time, its best performance since 1990, the year Germany was reunified under CDU Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
He said that some of the more recent EU members, in central and eastern Europe, were anxious that France and Germany would leave them in the EU sidelines after the United Kingdom, which used to keep the Franco-German bloc in check, departed the Union.
The Alliance 90/The Green Party chose to entertain their supporters with colored pasta, serving green-styled spaghetti and pizza while entertaining guests with live music in the center of Berlin.