Polls suggest jump in German far-right party's support

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel

Its supporters have loudly disrupted Merkel's rallies, where they loudly jeer, boo and whistle in a bid to drown her out. Munching popcorn, ice cream, waffles and hot dogs, they enthusiastically applauded when Merkel entered the building and stood in line patiently at the end to get her autograph.

Take immigration. Most Germans feel the country has taken in enough refugees, but economists argue it needs high-skilled migrants to make up for a shrinking working-age population. "Domestically, her party will probably engage in a lot of infighting about the course of the conservative party whenever she decides to step down or not run for office anymore", said Sebastian Feyock, an analyst at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. The Green party comes next, followed by the Left Party. Or in the slightly more blunt words of FDP leader, Christian Linder, "Up until today, the CDU has let itself be pushed around by the SPD in its economic policy". The latest ARD-DeutschlandTrend poll gives the SPD 20 percent.

The German leader also revealed that her favorite color is the cornflower blue, her favorite piece of clothing is a comfortable cardigan and that she loves swimming and gardening. Moreover, it would not escape voters' attention that unlike most of the rest of the developed world Germany is running a near record budget surplus.

Some were questioning if she would even make it to this election.

Whenever Merkel does choose to retire from public life, the calculations that kept returning her to power may go out the window. In a TV debate earlier this month, she appeared conciliatory, agreeing with much of what her opponent said.

"The political calm that has so widely been celebrated both within and outside Germany is rather more vulnerable than it seems".

The FDP are now sitting on eight to 10 per cent in opinion polls while Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats are now enjoying 36 per cent of voters' support.

Another dilemma is how to attack Merkel and her CDU, the SPD's outgoing coalition partners, given Germany's steady growth and a low jobless rate. The SPD - and the other parties for that matter - regard this as both unnecessary and unrealistic.

Her only serious challenger is Martin Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament. He lost in a string of regional elections to the CDU, including in Germany's most populous sate, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Over the course of her 12 years as Chancellor to date, Angela Merkel has developed a reputation for being steady and pragmatic, a leader who favours mutually beneficial and sustainable agreements in both the domestic and worldwide spheres.

Merkel contrasted Tuesday's hecklers with the contribution of 30 million Germans who are involved in voluntary associations, including those who help support refugees.

"There would hardly be any difference", said Berger, noting that the SPD candidate Schulz might possibly have a slightly stronger normative agenda regarding domestic issues in China, especially human rights and rule of law. However, Chancellor Merkel has stressed that the negotiations are very much between the United Kingdom and the remaining 27 European Union member states as a whole and it will be for the EU's negotiators in Brussels to forge the deal with the UK. There are 299 electoral districts, so there are 299 seats in the Bundestag, the German Parliament, allocated to a straight first-past-the-post victor from the first vote.

"We have to get out of a dead-end situation", Lindner told the Funke Media Group on August 5. The extra seats are handed out so as not to distort the party vote, and this can lead to the number of lawmakers mushrooming-the current parliament has 631 members.

However, there is one extra complication: parties must win at least five per cent of the national vote, of three constituencies, to enter the Bundestag.

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