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Germany's Merkel hits local campaign trail

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By Euronews  with REUTERS
Germany's Merkel hits local campaign trail

<p>German Chancellor Angela Merkel has hit the campaign trail for what her <span class="caps">CDU</span> Party hopes will be its next regional win.</p> <p>Fresh off the back of a victory in Saarland, she stepped out at a party conference in North Rhine-Westphalia, six weeks ahead of a local ballot there (May 14) and six months before the general election (September 24).</p> <p>The leader focussed on the federal, rather than local vote. She directed her comments at her main challenger, <span class="caps">SPD</span> leader, Martin Schulz.</p> <p>Merkel accused the <span class="caps">SPD</span> of being backward-looking and said they were still wrestling with job-market reforms dating back 13 or 14 years.</p> <p>It comes a matter of days after a weekly poll suggested Schulz’s Party had narrowed the gap with the chancellor’s conservatives.</p> <p>Both leaders are hoping September’s vote will rid Germany of the current national <span class="caps">CDU</span>-<span class="caps">SPD</span> coalition. </p> <br /> <h3>Local vote</h3> <br /> <p>North Rhine-Westphalia is currently jointly-ruled by the <span class="caps">SPD</span> and Greens. Schulz’s Social Democrats are forecast to win, but the future appears less bright for their partner, meaning the <span class="caps">CDU</span> could make gains in the region.</p>