Waving or Drowning?

FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS

THE CHAMP: Schröder looks triumphant after delivering a campaign speech in Magdeburg, left; but his party is trailing the opposition, led by Merkel, below, by 13 points in the polls

You've got to hand it to Gerhard Schröder; he really knows how to put on a show. At a campaign rally in Magdeburg in eastern Germany last week, he greeted the crowd with a big thumbs-up sign, gave a pugnacious and impassioned speech about his government's record, then exited to loud applause with his hands clasped over his head like a boxer who's delivered a knockout blow. From this bravura performance, you'd think Schröder and his Social Democratic Party (SPD) were coasting to victory in the Sept. 18 elections. In fact, the SPD trails the Christian Democrats (CDU) and its sister...

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