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Chancellor Merkel 'pop-up' campaigns on streets ahead of vote

A 'Merkel app' with a portrait of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pictured on a smartphone in Berlin, September 5, 2013. REUTERS/Pawel Ko
A 'Merkel app' with a portrait of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pictured on a smartphone in Berlin, September 5, 2013. REUTERS/Pawel Ko

BERLIN (Reuters) - Angela Merkel's election campaign team launched a 'Merkel app' for smartphones on Thursday that appears to make outdoor billboard posters of the German chancellor speak directly to voters.

Use of the cutting-edge technology appeared to be a first for German politics, which is gearing up for an election on September 22 whose final outcome is still hard to call.

The app automatically recognizes Merkel's face through a camera when held up to a campaign poster with her image and begins playing a video featuring her as a pop-up talking head.

On the smartphone screen, Merkel, wearing a red suit and smiling broadly, appears to speak out of the poster and says: "Germany is doing well today but we cannot take this for granted. I want us to be successful in the future together."

Merkel's campaign manager Hermann Groehe said he hoped the new app would help mobilize more voters to support her conservatives in what he said would be a "tight race".

Merkel's conservatives are well ahead in opinion polls but she may lack enough support to recreate her center-right coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats and may end up in a "grand coalition" with the opposition Social Democrats.

(Reporting by Sophie Duvernoy, editing by Gareth Jones and Ralph Boulton)

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