Chancellor Angela Merkel faces her final test before the general election in September when Germany’s most populous state votes in a key election Sunday.
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is home to 20 percent of Germany’s population, which makes a key battle ground for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Merkel — who is seeking a fourth term in office — has regained the lead in national polls, but Sunday’s election is expected to go down to the wire.
The state is a stronghold for the Social Democrats (SPD), led by the former President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz. Merkel has spent the week campaigning in North Rhine-Westphalia to secure CDU’s first victory in the state in several years. Her speeches have been directed at Schulz, who has vowed to expand social programs in the state.
“The SPD candidate in the federal election has it backward: he talks a lot about justice, and then maybe about innovation as an afterthought,” Merkel told supporters Saturday, Bloomberg reports.
CDU currently holds a seven-point lead over SPD in national polls. The parties currently rule together but Merkel hopes to win enough support to leave SPD out of a coalition next term.
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