With just a few days to go before what is expected to be a comfortable victory for German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sunday's elections, her main contender on the left is facing mounting criticism for his campaign.
Martin Schulz, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) candidate, is stuck in polls of about 20 percent support, seemingly unable to make any headway against the CDU's Merkel.
"He is an extremely accoplished politician," Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee, reporting from Karlsruhe, said, referring to Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament.
"And yet, at a time when many Germans are unsure about Angela Merkel, he has made precisely no progress against her."
Some supporters of the SPD have pointed out that there is little to distinguish their party leader from Merkel.
"Sometimes I feel like they are a long married couple," Jan Siebenbrock told Al Jazeera.
The choice of German leader could affect everything from the future of the country's car industry to the state of Brexit negotiations.
Sunday also could mark the day the far-right Alternative for Germany enters the national parliament for the first time.
While Merkel and her Christian Democrats are the favourites to win, the vote will only mark the start of coalition talks as Germany waits to see what shape its next government will take.