German candidates hit campaign trail ahead of September election

German candidates hit campaign trail ahead of September election

Angela Merkel continues her campaign in Bremen today ahead of the September 24 general election. Her main rival, Martin Schulz,

Photo: Xinhua/Joachim Bywaletz

Photo: Xinhua/Joachim Bywaletz

Angela Merkel continues her campaign in Bremen today ahead of the September 24 general election. Her main rival, Martin Schulz, will lay out his immigration platform in Berlin.

With Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrat Union (CDU) leading Schulz’s centre-left Social Democratic Party by an average of 15 points in polls, the former European Parliament president needs a breakthrough if he hopes to unseat the incumbent. He may be hoping immigration could do the trick, having endorsed financial consequences for EU countries that don’t take their share of refugees.

Yet, without some major CDU misstep or an unforeseen event wrecking Merkel’s popularity, there is little Schulz can do to lift his party’s fortunes. While some speculate a scandal over collusion among auto firms could hurt the incumbent, Merkel opened the CDU campaign blasting German automakers and touting her economic record—including the 3.8% unemployment rate.

Expect Merkel to win a fourth term. The question is whether she continues the current grand coalition with Schulz’s party, or if the centrist Free Democratic Party or environmentalist Greens do well enough for the CDU to govern with one (or both) of them instead.