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Germany’s “mother” loses support

Angela Merkel is losing a poll for the first time in years

Angela Merkel is losing a poll for the first time in years

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing the biggest challenge of her career after the Christian democrats (CDU) fell behind the Social Democrats (SPD) in a national poll for the first time in seven years. Though it’s only one poll, this shock result indicates Merkel may face tough competition if she wants to retain power in September’s elections.

Here’s why it matters:

Merkel has ruled Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, since November 2005, and while there was some talk that she might not seek a fourth term in office, on Monday the CDU — together with its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) — endorsed Merkel as their candidate.

Her endorsement came just as German newspaper Bild published a poll that put Merkel’s CDU-led bloc at 30 percent — down three points from the last poll — while the SPD jumped 4 points to 31 percent, the first time they have led a national poll since August 2010.

The poll on Monday comes just a day after another poll, also published in Bild, showed a six-point surge in support for the SPD party — the highest jump in its history.

The SPD has seen a 10-point gain in the space of two weeks, after the party announced it was nominating Martin Schulz as its candidate for chancellor in the upcoming elections. Schultz is an outsider in German politics, though he is a former European parliament president. The Schultz appointment appears to have energized the SDP and re-engage voters who had lost faith in the party.

On Monday, Merkel described this election as “the most difficult campaign I’ve ever faced, partly because of the international situation.” In recent weeks Merkel has come under pressure over her immigration policies after it emerged that a refugee who was denied asylum in Germany but not deported, carried out the Berlin Christmas Market attack. Even her CSU allies have split with Merkel over this, demanding an annual limit on migration numbers.

In a country that craves consistency, Merkel says she will campaign on a platform of “dependability, stability, and order.” Despite recent issues, Merkel remains a popular figure in Germany, though her approval rating is waning. During more than a decade in office, she has guided Germany through the financial crisis of 2008 and the eurozone crisis, among others.

There is no term limit on the position of chancellor in Germany, with the last CDU chancellor, Helmut Kohl, in power for 16 years.

Cover: ASSOCIATED PRESS

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