German Chancellor Angela Merkel, poised to win a fourth term in Sunday’s election, and her center-left challenger Martin Schulz urged supporters on Saturday to keep fighting for votes with a third of the electorate still undecided.
Merkel is widely expected to cruise to reelection with the Schulz’s Social Democrats trailing by double digits but the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) could emerge as the third largest party, complicating the outlook for her next coalition, Reuters wrote.
A new INSA poll published by Bild newspaper showed sliding support for Merkel’s conservatives, who dropped two percentage points to 34 percent, and the SPD, down one point to 21 percent – both now joined in an unwieldy “grand coalition”.
The anti-immigrant AfD, meanwhile, rose two percentage points to 13 percent, cementing its bid to be the first far-right party to enter parliament since the end of World War Two.
Merkel urged supporters to drum up votes by focusing on conservatives’ efforts on behalf of families, a pledge to avoid tax increases and emphasis on increasing security in Germany.
The Christian Democratic leader also lauded the role of the European Union in providing stability in “a troubled world”.
First elected in 2005, Merkel remains popular in Germany but has regularly faced jeers and whistles from left- and right-wing demonstrators during rallies during this campaign.
In the western city of Aachen, Schulz pledged to fight for every vote until polls close at 6 p.m. on Sunday. He said high voter turnout was vital to offset growing support for the AfD, whom he described as “a party of haters.”
Schulz said the SPD overcame resistance from conservatives in their coalition to push through a minimum wage, same-sex marriage and other social priorities.