(Berlin) In five weeks of uncertain Bundestag elections in Germany, Angela Merkel emphatically supported her troubled Conservative Vice-Champion Armin Laschet on Saturday and said she was “deeply convinced” that he would succeed her in the Chancellery.
Posted on Aug 21, 2021 at 9:11 am
Yannick PASQUET Agence France-Presse
The 67-year-old Chancellor, who entered the race for the first time by attending a meeting of her conservative camp in Berlin, insisted on the human qualities of Armin Laschet, who, in her opinion, was able to “build bridges between people”. .
“It was always important to him to focus on individual and inalienable dignity,” she emphasized. “I am deeply convinced” that “with this attitude he will serve the Germans as Chancellor”, she added, while her party’s candidacy, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), was running for the election on June 26th.
Angela Merkel, who wants to withdraw from political life after 16 years in power, had made it her watchword so far to remain very discreet with regard to the election and to leave the field open to her designated successor.
But in view of the slump in the polls, she is now trying to score points for the Conservatives thanks to the record popularity that she still enjoys despite her 31-year political career.
The CDU, together with its Bavarian ally, the CSU, remains the leader in voting intentions, but has fallen to 22 to 23 percent, compared to around 30 percent a few weeks ago. Since the beginning of the year, when it pranced at 36%, the decline has been staggering.
Weakened by a number of mistakes, Armin Laschet attacked his two main rivals, the Social Democrats and the Greens, claiming that he would “fight with all means so that this country is not run by ideologues”.
His party, which largely dominated political life in the post-war period, “does not want to govern because we want to govern, but because we have to govern so that Germany takes the right path,” he told a hundred activists.
Closely followed by the conservatives is the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which, under the leadership of Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, has surprisingly gained 21% of voting intentions according to the latest polls.
With a current value of only 17%, environmentalists have been going through a long slide since the beginning of summer, far from the euphoria that followed in April after Annalena Baerbock’s candidacy was announced. Even then, the Greens had overtaken the Conservatives in the polls.
Known as a not charismatic and bad speaker, Olaf Scholz was able to develop an image of competence among the voters when Armin Laschet and Annalena Baerbock repeatedly made mishaps and had to defend themselves against allegations of plagiarism.
The political mismanagement of the fatal floods in July in the west of the country by Armin Laschet, head of one of the two regions affected by the disaster, also cost him a lot of popularity and promoted the rise of the SPD.
The hilarious pictures that showed him behind President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in the midst of a flood aroused stigmatization and had a catastrophic effect on a man who never agreed on his own political formation.
While poll results are being scrutinized across Europe, Armin Laschet is increasingly competitive in the ranks of his party, where some are asking him to withdraw his candidacy.
In January, painstakingly elected to the top of the CDU, the 60-year-old centrist then had all the trouble in the world to put himself at the top of the CDU-CSU list against his Bavarian rival Markus Söder.
The latter nevertheless assured him on Saturday: “Armin, you can count on my support, I’ll say that in all honesty”.
But he also sounded the alarm and judged that the current trend was “clear”. “It’s tight, it’s getting very tight and everyone has to understand” that it’s all or nothing, he insisted. “I don’t feel like going into the opposition”.