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Angela Merkel races ahead in polls with six weeks to go

Challenge from lefts new saviour Martin Schulz fades among voters content with economic success

Not long ago, he was seen as a bearer of hope , not just for his own party, Germanys Social Democrats, but for the whole of the embattled European left. He was nicknamed Sankt Martin, the man who had the potential to topple Angela Merkel from her throne after virtually 12 years and bring a wave of fresh suggestions that would reinvigorate a political scenery became staid by her long-term presence.

Martin Schulz, 61, was even being looked to closely by Jeremy Corbyns advisers at a time when the Labour leader was struggling to mobilise support. They marvelled at how “hes having” explosion on to Berlins political stage and was inspiring a new generation of young voters, while encouraging those who had abandoned the party to return in their thousands.

Now, with six weeks to go until Germans go to the polls, Schulz is trailing Merkel miserably and already appears to be deciding for a seat on the Bundestag opposition benches. The SPD candidate is toiling hard, but no one is taking any notification, wrote leading commentator Heribert Prantl in an editorial for the Sddeutsche Zeitung .

The polls depict Schulzs SPD trailing Merkels CDU/ CSU confederation by about 14%, having been almost neck-and-neck just a few months ago. Polling analysts are not so much blaming Schulzs campaign, which has appreciated him off on an energetic tour across Germany at the same time as Merkel has been merrily relaxing in the South Tyrol, but on the strength of his adversaries brand, the sense of reliability she exudes, and the continuity she will give a Germany that is on an economic high.

The trust she inspires was reinforced last week by pictures of Merkel and her husband, Joachim Sauer, wearing the same getups they have worn for many years in a row, while they ever visit the same hotel and is necessary to stay in the same room.

Prantl mentions the decision to vote for Merkel is the equivalent of a gambling who is happy to break even. People are still is in compliance with being in the black with Merkel, says Prantl, because in a world that is topsy-turvy and being was governed by so many crazy people, theyd quite like to keep her, simply because shes not mad, but capable and experienced.

When Schulz arrived in Berlin, having expended the previous two decades on the European political scene, latterly as president of the European parliament, he attracted thousands of new and former recruits to the SPD, after two decades in which it had haemorrhaged subsistence. The party standing in the polls rose by 10 percentage points. He went on to receive a record 100% of the voting rights to become the working party leader. The SPDs euphoria was expressed in T-shirts emblazoned with his bespectacled, bearded face, along with the slogan Time for Martin and ruby-red balloons printed with the words A breather of fresh air. He was greeted with shriekings and cheers when he entered rooms full of SPD members.

Martin Schulz has promised to address growing inequality. Photo: Thomas Lohnes/ Getty Images

But the Schulz effekt, as it was called, proved short-lived. The party suffered setbacks in regional elections, and despite Schulz conveying the importance of social justice Gerechtigkeit his campaign buzzword, at a time of a widening rich-poor subdivide, the euphoria ebbed amid objections there was little substance in his plans for Germany.

The traditional base of the SPD is still smarting over the labour reforms introduced by the last SPD chancellor, Gerhard Schrder, which were key to Germanys economic recovery and its they are able to cast off the label sick boy of Europe.

Schulz has promised to address the growing inequality for which Schrder is blamed. The SPD, as junior spouse in Merkels grand coalition for the past four years, is credited with having pushed through legislation on a minimum wages. But the poorest 20% of Germans have yet to see better living standards. On paper the employment statistics appear good, with Germany on track to have zero unemployment in the next three years. But the increase in the number of workers are in poorly paid, unstable operate. Many voters are therefore said to be deciding on the steady pair of hands, rather than taking a risk, or deciding not to vote at all.

Alexander Wallasch is one of many commentators carrying malaise about the dominance of Merkel, pointing out the specific incongruity that she is now as popular as she was before the refugee crisis two summers ago, when her controversial decision to open Germanys doors contributed many to predict she would be forced out of office.

What is wrong with German voters? Wallasch asked in the liberal conservative online publication Tichys Einblick. How can it be that the CDU with Angela Merkel at the helm is currently enjoying 40% support? Is it simply a lack of alternatives? Or, he goes so far as to suggest, a type of Stockholm syndrome referring to the condition whereby a victim in a hostage-taking develops thoughts of trust or affection towards their captor.

Even more extraordinary is Merkels popularity among young people, including with regard to first-time voters , none of whom are likely to remember a Germany when Merkel was not in the “drivers seat”. An opinion poll by Forsa in June showed that 57% of those aged 18 to 21 are in favour of Merkel as chancellor, compared with 53% of all voters. By contrast, Schulzs backing from the same age group was merely 21%.

But headlines have been dominated by the astound revelation last week that Merkel, back from her Tyrolean hiking tour, had suffered a 10 -point slide in her personal popularity, down to 59%. A political analyst, Heiko Funke, blamed her relaxed posture towards the election campaign, fallout from the anti-G2 0 demonstrations in Hamburg last month, a knife attack by an Islamist, and the scandal over diesel cars. The voters would have liked to have appreciated more involvement by Merkel, according to political scientist Carsten Koschmieder of Berlins Otto-Suhr-Institut for political science.

Karl-Rudolf Korte, a political analyst from Duisburg, said despite Merkel and the CDUs strong poll showing it would be a mistake to view such elections on 24 September as a foregone conclusion. As weve already been, within just a few periods or weeks problematic situations can develop, he mentioned. Moments of crisis are to be able to induce broad segments of voters to change their thinkers at the last minute.

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ world/ 2017/ aug/ 12/ germany-election-angela-merkel-martin-schulz

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