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German general election to take place on September 24

Germany's head of state has announced that this year's general election will be held September 24.

President Joachim Gauck announced he had approved the Cabinet's proposed date, the last Sunday in September.

The vote is expected to see the nationalist Alternative for Germany, or AfD, enter the national parliament on a wave of anti-migrant sentiment. They are currently polling at about 12%.

Chancellor Angela Merkel will be running for a fourth term, although it is far from certain who would join her in a coalition government if AfD takes a significant share of votes away from other parties.

Mrs Merkel's conservative bloc currently tops the polls with about 36% support, followed by her current coalition partner the Social Democrats, with around 21%.

The Social Democrat leader has said he will not stand as the party's candidate for chancellor.

Sigmar Gabriel told Der Stern magazine that he believed his party would have a better chance if someone else stood as its candidate for the top job.

The party said Mr Gabriel had instead proposed Martin Schulz, who recently decided not to seek another term as European Parliament president in favour of returning to domestic politics.

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From Belfast Telegraph