Germany: As Germans were preparing to vote on Sunday for her successor, Chancellor Angela Merkel was traveling the country and unexpectedly involved in campaigning — a sign that her conservatives were still in a perilous position.
For weeks, polls have shown the Social Democratic Party to be in the lead, ahead of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union. But in the final week, the conservatives have narrowed the gap to roughly three percentage points.
For Germany and for Merkel’s legacy, there is much at stake. Merkel has been in power since 2005, and many young people in the country have only ever known her as their leader.
Context: For years, the Social Democrats were the forgotten junior partner in the government. Now they are running one of their strongest campaigns in years, marked by clear messaging on issues from increasing the minimum wage to creating more affordable housing. Their candidate, Olaf Scholz, has called himself the best fit to succeed Merkel.