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Germany votes as history beckons for Merkel, and far-right

From Reuters - September 23, 2017

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germans vote in a national election on Sunday that is likely to see Chancellor Angela Merkel win a historic fourth term and a far-right party enter parliament for the first time in more than half a century.

Merkels conservative bloc is on track to remain the largest group in parliament, opinion polls showed before the vote, but a fracturing of the political landscape may well make it harder for her to form a ruling coalition than previously.

With as many as a third of Germans undecided in the run-up to the election, Merkel and her main rival, centre-left challenger Martin Schulz of the Social Democrats (SPD), urged them on Saturday to get out and vote.

We want to boost your motivation so that we can still reach many, many people, the chancellor, 63, said in Berlin before heading north to her constituency for a final round of campaigning.

In regional votes last year, Merkels conservatives suffered setbacks to the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which profited from resentment at her 2015 decision to leave German borders open to over one million migrants.

Those setbacks made Merkel, a pastors daughter who grew up in Communist East Germany, wonder if she should even run for re-election.

But with the migrant issue under control this year, she has bounced back and thrown herself into a punishing campaign schedule, presenting herself as an anchor of stability in an uncertain world.

Visibly happier, Merkel campaigned with renewed conviction: a resolve to re-tool the economy for the digital age, to head off future migrant crises, and to defend a Western order shaken by Donald Trumps U.S. election victory last November.

GRAVEDIGGERS OF DEMOCRACY

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