As rival Martin Schulz overtakes Angela Merkel in the polls, is the Queen of Europe about to lose her crown?

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Merkel faces a strong challenge from her centre-left rivals (Source: Getty)

Daniel Hamilton, a senior director at FTI Consulting, says Yes.

The last year has been a torrid one for Angela Merkel. September’s elections won’t offer her any respite. Merkel has traditionally been lucky with her hapless Social Democrat (SPD) opponents. This year’s foe, former European Parliament president Martin Schulz, is different.

Cunning and commanding, Schulz’s time in Brussels taught him the art of compromise and coalition-building. Combining the SPD’s own surging support with that of the hard-left Linke and Green parties, Schulz has a path to forging an uneasy but eminently viable governing coalition.

Merkel’s own coalition is fragmenting. Her conservative Christian Social Union partners openly fume at her management of the refugee crisis, while the liberal Free Democrats continue to struggle in the polls.

Even if her party splutters over the line, she will be forced to go cap in hand to a reinvigorated SPD and ambitious Schulz to form a fresh grand coalition. The price of that coalition? An end to austerity and a tougher line on Anglo Saxon economics. In other words, an end to Merkelism.

Denis MacShane, the former minister of Europe, says No.

Writing off Angela Merkel – “the little girl” as Helmut Kohl patronisingly called her – is always a mistake. She removed Kohl, then Gerhard Schröder and has been swallowing up and spitting out Social Democratic challengers ever since.

I know and like Martin Schulz but he is more Neil Kinnock than Tony Blair. He is too honourable to play the anti-immigrant card and the Islamophobe AfD will pick up white working class votes that in previous elections went Social Democratic.

With Theresa May opting for isolation and the French unlikely to have a commanding President, the leadership of Europe remains with Merkel. Her last term will be unhappy and Schulz will give her a run for her euros, but she will still be in charge and the main alternative to Trumpism.

She will be in coalition, with possibly a leading role for Schulz. Merkel’s last term will be devoted to Europe, defending the German idea of a united Europe under a common rule book.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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