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German Elections: Merkel Leading Comfortably But Undecided Voters Still Pose Risks

Date: Wednesday, September 6, 2017 8:05 AM EST

 

CDU Leading Comfortable Race

 

The German election campaign continues to tick along as expected with the CDU/CSU maintaining a comfortable lead over the SPD, in second, who are expected to form a coalition government with Merkel’s party following the voting in three weeks’ time.

German Election: Introducing The Main Parties – From CDU to AfD

Following the French elections which saw far more risk of a euroskeptic, far-right party getting into power, the German elections have been comparatively uneventful. The main reason for this is the similarity between the policy programmes set forth by the two leading parties which both sides calling for a mix of greater infrastructure spending and tax reductions. Notably, there has been a distinct lack of focus on more important yet controversial issues such as potential eurozone reforms or integration of refugees.

Schulz’ Support Receding

Merkel is clearly on course for fourth term in office according to the latest polling results and despite a surge in support earlier in the year for Martin Schulz of the SPD shortly after he was selected as leader, the campaign appears to be fairly straightforward in terms of the incumbent chancellor retaining office. Schulz has struggled to build on the momentum he gained earlier in the year and has now lost support most notably in the traditional SPD stronghold of North Rhine-Westphalia where the SPD lost to the CDU in a federal election in May.

Schulz’ frustration is clearly starting to show as he has started attacking Merkel not just on policy issues such as refugees, defence spending, and Turkey, but also on a more personal level. However, Merkel has maintained her professionalism and typical soft-spoken approach and has shrugged off Schulz’ attacks without losing any credibility or popularity in the public eye.

Merkel Winning on Strong Economy

The backbone of Merkel’s campaign has been the strong German economy with GDP growth on course for 2% in 2017, unemployment at a record low of 5.6%, alongside strengthening consumer confidence and private consumption. Additionally, the German government achieved a budget surplus of 18.3bln EUR while public debt remains at the low level of 67% of GDP.

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