With less than a month to go in Germany’s election campaign, third place has become the most sought-after prize. Angela Merkel’s center-right bloc has held a lead of about 15 percentage points across a variety of polls for weeks. The Social Democrats, under Martin Schulz, may yet close the gap, but history suggests they have virtually no chance of winning. The battle for third place, however, is anything but over. A cluster of parties, including the far-left Die Linke, the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) are in a dead heat, all polling in the 7-10 percent range.
Leaders from all four parties are set to square off in the campaign’s first televised debate on Wednesday night.
Finishing third is about more than bragging rights. Indeed, the real battle for Germany’s future may well depend on it.
After years of a grand coalition, the conservatives and Social Democrats have become so similar in worldview that many voters have difficulty distinguishing between them. The contest between Merkel and Schulz, who are in broad agreement on the most pressing issues of the day, is primarily one of style not substance.
Full Article: In German election, third is the new first – POLITICO.