Merkel: Party was always aware it faced fight in German vote

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel says her party is fighting and was always aware that it wouldn’t “automatically” hold on to Germany’s top job after her 16 years in power. Merkel was downplaying alarming poll ratings as the country’s election nears. Recent polls have shown Merkel’s Union bloc under would-be successor Armin Laschet in second place behind the center-left Social Democrats with very low support of around 20%. It is running short of time to turn things around before the Sept. 26 parliamentary election. Merkel has largely stayed out of the campaign. But she has made a number of interventions lately.