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Social Democrats choose Martin Schulz in bid to unseat Angela Merkel

Germany's main centre-left party is backing former European Parliament president Martin Schulz to lead their campaign to unseat Chancellor Angela Merkel in the country's upcoming election.

Members of the Social Democratic Party's national executive agreed on Sunday to make Mr Schulz their candidate for the chancellorship, a post that traditionally goes to the party which receives the greatest share of votes in a general election.

Mr Schulz, 61, is also expected to become party leader in March after incumbent Sigmar Gabriel unexpectedly stepped down to make way for him last week.

Polls put the former bookseller's popularity close to that of Mrs Merkel, who is running for a fourth term in the September 24 vote.

Mr Schulz has spoken out against anti-immigrant populism that has boosted the nationalist Alternative for Germany party in recent years.

AP

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