In this photo taken Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, German Chancellor Angela Merkel waves at a election campaign event of the Christian Democratic Union for Sunday's election in Fritzlar, Germany. (Swen Pfoertner/dpa via AP)
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her beleaguered rival Martin Schulz embark on a final push for votes Friday ahead of a weekend election, both seeking to beat back a challenge from the emboldened hard-right.The AfD is currently polling at around 11 percent, deeply unsettling the mainstream parties that have governed Germany since the war.A strong showing for the AfD could eat away at Merkel's lead. Schulz this week took some succour from Merkel's slipping poll numbers, hoping for a "last-minute turnaround" linked to "growing unease" in the population.However, his SPD is set to fare even worse, around 22 percent, signalling an unmitigated disaster for Germany's oldest party.Merkel's chief of staff Peter Altmaier caused a stir this week by suggesting it would be better for Germans not to vote at all than to cast their ballot for the AfD.
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