Merkel ri­val faces lo­cal vote test

New Straits Times - - World -

FRANK­FURT: Polls are open in Ger­many for a lo­cal elec­tion that will test the strength of the coun­try’s So­cial Democrats as they try to deny Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel a fourth term.

The So­cial Democrats are try­ing to hold onto power in Sch­leswigHol­stein, where they have gov­erned since 2012. A good show­ing yes­ter­day in the re­gion with a pop­u­la­tion of 2.8 mil­lion would re­in­force their prospects for chal­leng­ing Merkel in the na­tion­wide elec­tion in Septem­ber.

So­cial Demo­cratic gover­nor Torsten Al­big is de­fend­ing a slim ma­jor­ity for his gov­ern­ing coali­tion with the Greens and the left­lean­ing SSW party. Polls point to a tight race with Merkel’s Chris­tian Democrats.

The So­cial Democrats surged in polls af­ter Martin Schulz, a for­mer Euro­pean Par­lia­ment pres­i­dent, was nom­i­nated as Merkel’s chal­lenger, but the party’s rat­ings have since sagged. AP

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