According to opinion polls, if Germans could choose their next President, they would overwhelmingly elect a former East German dissident this week and reject Chancellor Angela Merkel's hand-picked candidate for head of state.
But the embattled Ms. Merkel, who has been caught in a downward spiral in the polls, is expected to see her man Christian Wulff move in to Berlin's Bellevue Palace after a special representative body casts its ballots Wednesday.
Her supporters hope a victory by Mr. Wulff, an affable but relatively colourless conservative state leader over the freedom-fighting pastor Joachim Gauck, will mark a turning point for Ms. Merkel, if only by ending an embarrassing campaign.
Ms. Merkel, under fire for her hesitant handling of the eurozone crisis and relentless squabbling in her centre-right coalition, tapped Mr. Wulff as her choice to replace Horst Koehler, who resigned abruptly last month.
The former International Monetary Fund chief had faced a firestorm of criticism when he suggested that German troops deployed overseas might also be defending Berlin's economic interests. — AFP