Campaign posters for Anglera Merkel (L) and Martin Schulz in Berlin, September 2017.
Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

The odds were always stacked against Martin Schulz, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) challenger to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the forthcoming election. Europe’s largest economy is doing so well that voters are simply reluctant to change leaders. After all, in 2005, when Merkel and her Christian Democrats (CDU) took over, German unemployment stood at 11 percent; economic growth had been practically zero for four years running; the fiscal deficit remained stubbornly above 3 percent, the limit set by Europe's fiscal rules; and public debt was rising. Today, after 12 years—ones that brought financial, euro, and refugee crises—Germany is at full

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