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German voters head to polls as 'Mutti' Angela Merkel says goodbye after 16 years of rule 

Germany goes to the polls today in a vote that will bring to an end to 16 years of rule under Angela Merkel.

Despite the enduring popularity of Chancellor Merkel – known as ‘Mutti’ or ‘Mummy’ to millions of Germans – her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party is floundering, having shed a commanding lead in the last few months.

Merkel is not seeking a fifth term, which has set up the first national vote in which there is no incumbent chancellor seeking re-election since 1949.

Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party is floundering, having shed a commanding lead in the last few months

During a rollercoaster campaign, polls have shown all three largest parties – the CDU (together with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union), the Left-leaning Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Greens – take the lead.

But successive errors by Merkel’s CDU successor, Armin Laschet, and the Greens’ leader Annalena Baerbock, have seen them slump.

Laschet, who leads the party in populous North Rhine-Westphalia, has been criticised for mishandling the response to the devastating summer floods in his state.

The winner of the campaign so far has been SDP leader Olaf Scholz, who currently serves as Germany’s finance minister, with his party’s ratings rising sharply recently.

Merkel will remain in post until a coalition is formed, which could take weeks or months.

The winner of the campaign so far has been SDP leader Olaf Scholz, who currently serves as Germany’s finance minister, with his party’s ratings rising sharply recently

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