Apparently cruising towards re-election as German Chancellor, Angela Merkel knows a poor showing in regional polls could still give her rivals a boost.That is why, ahead of next month’s all-important national vote, she has been campaigning hard for today’s ballots in three German states. The conservative leader’s chief challenger for the top job has also been doing his bit. Trailing badly in the national opinion polls, Frank-Walter Steinmeier wants his Social Democrats to make the most of any gains in the regions. And gains there could well be. Because, while Merkel’s CDU looks safe in Saxony, it could be ousted from power if her political opponents form alliances in Thuringia and in Saarland. One scenario in Saarland is that Oskar Lafontaine’s far-left Die Linke political movement could join forces with the Social Democrats. If that happens, it would be the first such regional partnership between the parties in the west of the country.