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This week's In The News focuses on the forthcoming general election in Germany. The seven sources discussed provide background, news, analysis, and commentary. On Sunday September 27, Germany's 60 million voters will elect a chancellor to lead them into the 21st century. Incumbent Helmut Kohl, a 68-year-old Christian Democrat who has been chancellor since 1982, is running for an unprecedented fifth term. During Kohl's sixteen years in power as a major world leader, he has presided over the reunification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall, advocated European unity while strengthening ties with the US, and ardently endorsed Germany's participation in Europe's single currency, the Euro. However, the problems of modernizing the economy in the formerly communist eastern Germany--where seventeen percent of the workers are unemployed--compounded by the difficulties of high taxes, expensive social programs, and fleeing investments, have convinced many voters that is time for a change of leadership. Kohl's opponent in the general election, Gerhard Schroder, is a 54-year-old Social Democrat currently serving as the Prime Minister of the northern state of Lower Saxony. The telegenic Schroder considers himself a New Middle leftist and models his political style after UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President Bill Clinton; he has, in fact, used consultants from Clinton's last campaign to bolster his image. According to political pundits, both Kohl and Schroder have similar moderate platforms, which has made this race a campaign of competing personalities rather than of substantive issues. Recent polls have indicated a dead heat between the candidates leading into the final week of the campaign.
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