BERLIN, , (Pakistan Point News - APP - 18th Jan, 2017 ) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government on Wednesday set September 24 as the date for a general election, as she seeks a fourth term facing populist headwinds over a record migrant influx. The decision, adopted by Merkel's right-left coalition cabinet, must still be formally approved by President Joachim Gauck. But the announcement fires the starting gun for an election campaign that Merkel has said will be her toughest yet due to opposition to her liberal asylum policy.
Merkel, 62, is nevertheless the clear frontrunner in the race and enjoys solid popularity in Europe's top economy. A poll released Wednesday showed her conservative Christian Union bloc (CDU/CSU) as the strongest political force in the country with 38 percent. It was followed in distant second by the Social Democrats (SPD), the current junior partners in Merkel's "grand coalition" government, which polled at 21 percent.