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German Opposition Makes Last Attempt To Dethrone Merkel

REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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The German Social Democrats (SPD) will launch its platform Sunday with the hopes of blocking a fourth term for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

SPD received a huge boost in polls after naming Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament, as its candidate for chancellor in March. The party briefly held the lead but has now slipped far behind Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

A ZDF poll released Friday gives CDU and its sister party a 14-point lead over SPD. Merkel also beats Schulz in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup with 58 percent to 31 percent.

SPD’s party convention Sunday is considered the last opportunity to reverse the trend. The party is trying to win back working class voters by proposing tax hikes for high earners and push for legalization of gay marriage.

The problem many party members point out is that Schulz struggles to distinguish himself from Merkel.

“Schulz is afraid to attack Merkel. He has overestimated himself during the hype, thinking he could make the election about personality,” Gesine Schwan, a former SPD presidential candidate told The Washington Post in an article published Saturday. “Of course, on personality Merkel is very strong. The point is that she has a very bad policy, and this is where he has to attack her — her changes on taxes, no clear vision for Europe or climate policy, and the security issue, which doesn’t have to be a conservative point.”

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