Germany is set for one of its closest elections ever when voters go to the polls exactly four weeks from today, according to the latest odds on the Betfair Exchange.
At the time of writing (Sunday morning) Armin Laschet is 2.0811/10 to be the next German chancellor and Olaf Scholz is exactly the same price.
This is an extraordinary, and unexpected, state of affairs less than a month before polling day and one the outgoing Angela Merkel, who anointed her Christian Democrat (CDU) colleague Laschet as her heir apparent earlier this year, will be dismayed to see.
Merkel has been chancellor since 2005 and some commentators attributed the CDU's struggle's to a sense of 'post-Merkel angst' - a desire for change and frustration with some aspects of her chancellorship.
There can be no doubt, however, that it is Lashcet's lacklustre election campaign that has really damaged the CDU's chances of winning again on 26 September. It has simply gone from bad to worse for Laschet, with a dour performance that has failed to capture voters' imaginations punctuated by glaring gaffes, such as laughing on camera while visiting flood victims.
Scholz rides SPD surge
Olaf Scholzf - the centre-left Social Democrats' (SPD) candidate for the chancellorship - and has been the beneficiary with a surge in the polls.
A week ago one firm put the SPD ahead for the first time in 15 years while another put the CDU and SPD level. The CDU usually dominate German politics and have been out of power for only 20 of the 72 years in the Federal Republic's history. The German press is calling the current situation a political earthquake.
The good news for Scholz is that he has four more weeks to build momentum, pull ahead and hope that it will carry him all the way to the chancellery.
While Laschet has been criticised from all corners of Germany's political spectrum - including by leading figures in the CDU's Bavarian sister party the CSU - Scholz is hardly an inspiring figure and is unpopular with the left of his party.
What Scholz has done, though, is manage to persuade voters to the right of centre, who have voted for Merkel's CDU at recent elections, that the SPD can be trusted with the German economy.
Laschet has four weeks to rally support and hope these crucial swing voters can be persuaded to abandon their flirtation with the SPD and vote CDU/CSU. Today the candidates will take part in the first televised debate on German TV. Laschet needs to use it as an opportunity to turn his campaign around.
The CDU/CSU are 1.855/6 to win the most seats next month. The SPD are 1.9110/11.
The CDU/CSU are 1.814/5 to be party of the next chancellor while the SPD are even odds.
The narrow lead for the CDU/CSU is being eroded, however. Three weeks ago the SPD were 9.417/2 to take most seats but positive polling for Scholz's party has sent their odds tumbling.
Germany's chancellor is not directly elected. Coalition negotiations are likely to be necessary following the election and will probably involve two or three parties, including the Green Party. Their candidate Annalena Baerbock is 12.5 to be the next chancellor.
The opposition parties, especially the SPD, are the ones with the momentum ahead of a vital four weeks in German, and European, politics and we will bring you more updates between now and election day.