Merkel’s Party Losing In Poll For First Time In Seven Years

REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel is trailing in an opinion poll for the first time in almost seven years, as she admits the upcoming election will be her toughest challenge to date.

The Social Democrats (SPD) received 31 percent support in a recent poll by tabloid Bild. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) came in second with 30 percent. The poll is the first to put CDU in second place since 2010.

“This will be the hardest election campaign I have ever fought,” Merkel said at a press conference Monday in Munich. “We have quite a fight on our hands, and we have plenty of work ahead of us.”

Merkel appeared to be a lock for a fourth term in the chancellory when she announced her candidacy in November. Former European Parliament President Martin Schulz has emerged a serious contender in recent weeks after closing an 11-point gap since January.

Half of Germans back Schulz as their next chancellor, while just 34 percent want four more years of Merkel. The next chancellor will likely be chosen from the most popular party in September’s election.

Populist party Alternative for Germany came in third with 12 percent.

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