Small parties can often become key players in Germany's political system but what's happened to the Greens? They were once part of the ruling coalition and support for them in 2011 hit 23%. Recent polls suggest that's now down to around 10%. Joanna Partridge asks why.
In a land of wind turbines and bicycles, Germany's Green party has traditionally been a kingmaker. But in recent years other small rivals have overtaken them as junior coalition partners. The pro-environment party has seen its support crumble during this election campaign. It's now around 10% - a four year low and 5% less than July. Katrin Goering-Eckhardt is one of the party's top candidates. SOUNDBITE: Katrin Goering-Eckhardt, Green party joint top candidate, saying (German): "We're fighting hard until the 22nd of September, we're trying to convince with our arguments, with our ideas and so we'd like to turn the disappointment with Merkel's government into new energy, energy for change, renewable energy for this country." Energy's been a hot topic in the run up to the election. The Greens have always been anti-nuclear - and Germany has them to thank for the early adoption of renewable energy. Their support reached 23% after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. That's when Angela Merkel decided to switch off Germany's nuclear power plants by 2022. But the move to renewables is proving messy. The country's energy policy is in chaos - and consumers are paying the price. PTC Renewable energy is second nature here but the Green Party faces a big problem. German voters fear they've trying to tell people what to do - drive more slowly, turn off the lights, even eat more healthily. Their suggestion of a "Veggie day" went down particularly badly as Germans love their meat, as well as their cars. The Greens grew out of the peace movement of the 1970s. But they've struggled to come up with a modern message, says Professor Friedbert Rueb, from Berlin's Humboldt University. SOUNDBITE: Friedbert Rueb, Humboldt University political professor, saying (English): "They had a programme with strong increases in taxes for special groups of society, for those groups of society which have higher incomes and I would say this was bad for the electoral support of the party." The Greens last coalition partner the SPD has also had a poor campaign. The pro-environmental party has long been opposed to working with Merkel. Unless their ratings improve quickly, they may be looking at another four years in opposition.