With only days until Germany heads to the polls on September 24, here’s a recap of the race in the lead up to election day.
Where do Germany’s two chancellor candidates stand on key issues?
On the issue of North Korea, Social Democrat Martin Schulz argues US President Donald Trump is not the right person to solve tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Chancellor Angela Merkel says although she disagrees with Mr Trump on many issues, solving the current situation without his involvement is impossible.
Mr Schulz says if he were to become chancellor he would stop EU accession talks for Turkey, while Ms Merkel says Germany should not push for a break in the negotiations although she believes there should be a freeze on any payments from the European Union to help with Turkey’s accession.
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Mr Schulz accuses Ms Merkel of not informing other European Union nations properly of Germany’s plan, two years ago, to allow in refugees who were stuck in Hungary.
The chancellor says the government simply acted in accordance with the laws laid down in the country’s constitution.
Both candidates agree that the EU-Turkey agreement on refugees should be maintained, despite human rights abuses committed by Ankara.
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SECURITY AND ISLAMIC EXTREMISM:
The chancellor argues authorities need to have more tools at their disposal to conduct video and social media surveillance.
Mr Schulz says he wants 15,000 more police jobs created and officers should not be tied up with so much bureaucracy.
On the topic of radicalisation, Ms Merkel says a version of Islam which abides by Germany’s constitution is welcome in the country.
Both candidates say preachers who spread extreme views in Germany’s mosques should not be tolerated.
Mr Schulz argues although Germany is a wealthy country, not all people in the country are doing well, citing single parents, pensioners and long-term unemployed.
He says he will campaign for free kindergartens to try to lighten the financial burden on parents.
Ms Merkel counters the number of unemployed has sunk from 5 million to 2.5 million since she took over as chancellor.
Mr Schulz wants to reduce taxes on families and also force the top tax rate to apply to those earning higher.
The chancellor says she wants to save German taxpayers 15 billion euros over the next four years.
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Ms Merkel categorically rules out forming a coalition with the country’s Left Party or the right-wing AfD party, and avoids answering the question on whether she would enter into a partnership with the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP).
Mr Schulz has refused to rule out his party could again form the junior partner in a grand coalition with Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats, should they fail to win the vote on September 24.
Germany 2017: The final countdown