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Schulz to set out plan for taking down Merkel

photo by AP photo

Schulz is hoping to unseat Merkel, the world\'s most powerful woman in September elections in Germany.

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AFP, Berlin  :
Martin Schulz will on Sunday officially become Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief challenger in Germany's September general election and lay out his plans for unseating the world's most powerful woman.
The bearded Social Democrat, already credited with giving his ailing party a strong shot in the arm, will be anointed SPD leader and standard bearer at a one-day congress in Berlin.
German media predicted he could garner more than 90 percent of the vote from the country's oldest political party.
In a speech to the SPD rank and file, Schulz will attempt to harness his momentum against Merkel, whose conservatives just a few months ago had an apparently invincible lead in the polls.
Schulz's decision to leave the European Parliament, which he headed for five years, and run to lead Germany has given the Social Democrats a new lease of life since party leader Sigmar Gabriel asked him to take the reins in January.
"It's been encouraging to see in the last few weeks that people are hopeful again that the Social Democrats have a shot," Schulz told Berlin public radio RBB this week.
"My intention to pursue policies that make the lives of hard-working people a little better is apparently finding a lot of support."
Opinion surveys have recorded a 10-point jump for the SPD in recent weeks and some polls put it ahead of the conservative bloc of Merkel, who is trying to win a fourth term.
The congress will fire the starting gun for the national election campaign and the race for three state polls, the first of which will be held in Saarland on the French border on March 26.
·The Social Democrats, junior partners in Merkel governments for nearly eight of the last 12 years, long withered in Merkel's shadow.
But Gabriel, now Germany's foreign minister, told supporters this month that Schulz's entry into the race as a Berlin outsider appealed to many SPD voters who are tired of the "grand coalition".
"He embodies the feeling of Social Democracy, in his head and above all in his heart," Gabriel said.

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