Left Behind

JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP / Getty Images

Placards featuring the Social Democratic Party (SPD) main candidate Frank-Walter Steinmeier and German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) hang in a street in Hanover

Angela Merkel will be re-elected as Chancellor of Germany on Sept. 27. That's one of the safest bets around. The only question is whether she will be in a coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD), as in the last four years, or with the Free Democrats (FDP), a center-right party out of power for 11. In Merkel's success hangs a tale of significance beyond Germany.

Call the story "The Decline of the European Democratic Left." The SPD has been trailing Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) by up to 15 points for months. The French Socialists were trounced...

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