Published: 29 July 2017 Saturday, 05:22 AM
Bonn, 29 July (deutschenews24.de/dpa)- German Chancellor ANGELA MERKEL displayed her confidence in her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party`s 17-point lead in the polls by heading off on her annual vacation on Tuesday, just eight weeks before the election.
Her main challenger, MARTIN SCHULZ of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), travelled to Italy on Thursday to advocate for a fair distribution of refugees across Europe.
The former European Parliament president has seized on the refugee issue in a bid to dent the CDU`s lead by demonstrating his skills at solving problems on the European stage.
According to a poll released by the Infratest dimap polling institute on Thursday, Merkel`s CDU/CSU conservative political bloc has the largest lead over rivals in months, with 40 per cent of the vote.
The SPD remained at 23-per-cent support, while the environmentalist Greens and the business-friedly Free Democrats (FDP) won 8 per cent each, according to the poll.
The survey showed the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) winning 9 per cent of the vote, meaning the anti-immigrant party would enter the Bundestag parliament for the first time.
MEETINGS OF NOTE:
The SPD is due to unveil details of its election campaign on Tuesday in Berlin.
On Sunday, Cem Oezdemir, the head of the Greens, will give a summer interview to public broadcaster ZDF in which he will discuss some of his party`s policies.
Germany`s political parties jumped in on a debate about potential sanctions against Turkey over its detention of human rights activist Peter Steudtner on terrorism-related charges.
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the SPD, who announced that travel advisories to Turkey would be sharpened and government export guarantees reviewed, has seen his popularity rise as a result.