However, the enthusiasm for the party's new leader, former head of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, proved temporary, and the SPD is unlikely to do much better than its score in previous elections (23% in 2009 and nearly 26% in 2013). For many months, Angela Merkel's party has polled about 37%, which puts her well into the lead, although not enough to govern alone. This is following a strong performance in the much-anticipated TV debate with Martin Schulz on 3 September.
In view of increasing polarization within some European societies, the results of the German election could have significant implications not just for member nations of the European Union, but also for other countries, including Canada, and particularly the USA under Trump, whose erratic and divisive polices are increasingly undermining national unity. In the context of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, it is crucial that Ireland continues to further diversify its commercial ties with remaining EU member states with whom it can trade freely through the European Single Market. The strength of its economy has enabled Germany to sustain a high level of public services and also enjoy one of the best social security systems in the world.
The good news is that Ireland already has an extensive trading relationship with Germany. Returning to domestic politics after years in Brussels, he is well-aware of how the outside world perceives Germany. The population of Germany at about 83 million is also by far the largest in the EU.
"It is struggling to hold its core voters, let alone win over floating or new voters", said Gero Neugebauer, a Berlin political scientist.
Chancellor Merkel has always been a good friend to Ireland. They crashed out of parliament that year but are hoping to re-enter the legislature on Sunday as the third-largest party.
The men are vying for some of the 600 seats up for election in the German Bundestag (parliament). "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.
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"We live in uncertain times", Merkel said during a rally in the seaside resort of Binz. The only possibility for Schultz to become Chancellor would be to form a coalition with both the Left and Greens, a possible but unlikely outcome. There is little to prevent Chancellor Angela Merkel from winning a fourth term, although concerns now focus on her winning partner. Domestically, she has overseen a German economy which, despite the recent turbulance in worldwide politics, has performed remarkably well, with unemployment at a record low and business confidence at its highest levels since Germany's reunification.
The left-wing Die Linke party gained half a percentage point and now shares the third place with the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) at 11 percent. At European level, she is similarly seen as an anchor of stability in an otherwise volatile global environment. "Merkel wants to manage the past, we have to shape the future". For example, regarding the ongoing Brexit negotiations, Merkel has stressed that full access to the Single Market "is only possible under the condition of adherence to the four basic principles" and there must be no "cherry picking" for the United Kingdom in this area.
"If a CDU-FDP coalition emerges, it will not be the best thing for Greece", he said.
She said the AfD has joined the anti-abortion rights cause primarily because it wants to lure groups like the Catholic Church, for example, into supporting them.
Joining them is likely to be the anti-EU populist and xenophobic Alternative for Germany (AfD), the first party to the right of the CDU to make it into the Bundestag post-1945.
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