German 20-year-olds barely can remember life before Merkel. She has been Germany's leading political figure for 12 years and looks set to rack up another four. Yet Germany has quite a tradition of long chancellorships.
Wolfgang Schäuble is one of the most influential German politicians never to have been chancellor. Now he faces new challenges as president of a German parliament that includes the far-right AfD.
The Social Democrat left his post as head of the European Parliament to challenge Angela Merkel. As he lags in the polls, Schulz holds on to the hope that his enthusiasm can convince voters to abandon "aloof" Merkel.
The Greens and the Free Democrats have traditionally been bitter rivals in Germany. But will these two smaller parties put aside their differences for a chance at a coalition with the conservatives and a share in power?
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