Germany. In an election expected to give an idea of where German voters hearts and minds are, voters will go to the polls to see just how deep in trouble angela Merkel is in election 2017.

The stage is set as Germans in the far northern state of Schleswig-Holstein vote on Sunday in the first of two regional elections that the Social Democrats must win if they are to pose a serious challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel in September’s national German election.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) enjoyed a revival in the opinion polls earlier this year after nominating former European Parliament president Martin Schulz in January as its candidate to run against Merkel in the fall German 2017 national elections.

But the desired results failed to deliver in Saarland, where Schulzs party collapsed in a March state poll. In Schleswig-Holstein, the SPD will defend an incumbent state premier for the first time since Schulz’s nomination as party leader.

“Perhaps if Torsten Albig wins, whatever the coalition constellation, that will show people that the election in September is open,” said Hajo Funke a political scientist at Berlin’s Free University.

The SPD’s chances of toppling Merkel will be even better if they can hold onto power next Sunday in North Rhine-Westphalia, a large western region where elections in the past have served as an indicator of the national mood more dependably.

The leftist party has a challenging road ahead based upon poll results. Two polls on Thursday showed Merkel’s conservative bloc extending its lead over the SPD at the national level to six and seven percentage points respectively, but experts caution a lead that small is subject to a 4 point deviation and the rest can disappear overnight over an issue in play.

Tags: ; ; ; ; ; ;