Europe News

Germany set for federal election on Sept 24, Merkel seeks fourth term

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech during the yearly meeting of Germany's government workers union Deutscher Beamtenbund (dbb) in Cologne, Germany January 9, 2017. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany looks set to hold its federal election on Sunday Sept. 24, with Chancellor Angela Merkel seeking a fourth term in office and the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party expected to enter the national parliament for the first time.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Twitter that the cabinet had suggested that date to the president, who has the final decision but tends to agree with the government’s proposal.

Merkel faces a tougher re-election campaign than previously after allowing more than a million migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere to enter the country in the last two years.

Concerns about integration and security have pushed her popularity down and fueled the rise of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which is expected to win enough votes to clear the 5 percent threshold to enter the federal parliament.

A poll by Forsa for German magazine Stern published on Wednesday put Merkel’s conservative bloc - her Christian Democrats and the Christian Social Union, their Bavarian sister party - on 38 percent, up one point.

The Social Democrats (SPD), junior partner in the ruling coalition, also edged up by one point to 21 percent while the AfD shed one point, falling to 11 percent.

A poll published earlier this month showed refugee policy will be the biggest issue for voters in the election.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Hugh Lawson