BERLIN Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has asked the German president to set September 22 as the date of the next federal election, when she hopes to secure a third term in power.
"It will come as no surprise that the German government is proposing to the president that Sunday, September 22, 2013 should be the day of the 18th German (federal) election," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular news conference.
Merkel is seeking re-election as chancellor of Europe's biggest economy and most opinion polls put her conservative bloc at least 10 points ahead of the biggest opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD).
However, it is unclear whether she will be able to form another government with her current coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), who in most polls are scoring below the 5 percent threshold needed to enter parliament.
Merkel, popular among voters for her tough stance in the euro zone debt crisis, may end up in a "grand coalition" with the SPD in what would be a repeat of the 2005-2009 government.
According to the constitution, the president formally sets the date for the election, which this time has to take place on a Sunday between August 28 and October 27 - roughly four years after the last vote.
President Joachim Gauck's agreement is a little more than a formality.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Kevin Liffey)