German Prime Minister Angela Merkel stepped down from the wall and marked a stronger position on Tuesday (31) in the election campaign for her succession, after polls show that her party, the Union (CDU / CSU), continues to fall. .
Germany’s parliamentary elections take place on September 26 and will mark the end of Merkel’s 16-year reign, who announced her intention to retire last year.
“With me at the head of the government, there would never be a coalition in which the left would be involved,” said the center-right politician, responding to a question about Olaf Scholz, candidate of the Social Democrats ( SPD) who sought to reinforce whose message has the profile closest to that of Merkel.
On the rise in voting intentions since the July floods, the Social Democratic Party outnumbered the Union in the average voter intention polls this weekend, from 15% to 24%.
The initials of Merkel, whose candidate for prime minister is the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, fell from 29% to 22%.
Although German voters do not directly choose the Prime Minister, but rather the MPs who elect him to the Bundestag (lower house), analysts believe that Scholz’s popularity – more than double that of Laschet – is one of the causes of this upheaval.
Scholz is also seen as more secure and stable than Laschet, and he quickly put in place a financial aid plan for flood victims, while the Union candidate reacted late to the disaster in his state and was caught laughing during a tribute to the victims.
Establishing himself as Merkel’s “heir” could win the less right-wing part of the center-right electorate for his party, believes Scholz, who is deputy prime minister and finance minister in Merkel’s government.
It would also benefit from the good record of the current administration: 70% of Germans consider the federal administration to be good, according to August data from Forschungsgruppe Wahlen.
In this identification strategy, he even posed for a German magazine, mimicking the diamond hand gesture that is a symbol of his boss.
The candidate cannot, however, explicitly exclude an alliance with the left without coming into direct conflict with the leadership of his own party, which belongs to a group more to the left, while Scholz is in the centrist wing.
This embarrassment opened the flank to attacks by Union candidate Armin Laschet during last Sunday’s televised debate and, this Tuesday, to criticism of Merkel.
According to the Prime Minister, the fact that Scholz does not refuse an alliance with the left means that “there is a big difference between the two of us concerning the future of Germany”.
“I want to make it clear that for the future, and especially in these times, very clear statements are needed on the continuation of the government’s work,” said Merkel (the interview, in German).
One of the main reservations about the left is that the party supports Germany’s withdrawal from NATO, a military alliance of European and North American countries. Because of this stance, the Greens, who are third in the polls, have already said they will not accept a coalition with the left.
In the interview, Merkel was also delighted that Scholz wanted to come across as the representative of continuity, which would be an endorsement of her government — of which the Social Democrats are a part.
“In the past, the SPD did not always speak positively about my management,” lambasted the Prime Minister, who will quit politics after 16 years in government. It will be the first time since 1949 that an active prime minister has failed to run, making this year’s elections more unpredictable according to analysts.
MEET THE CANDIDATES
Party: Social Democrats (SPD)
Current position: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
Career: Lawyer, former mayor of Hamburg from 2011 to 2018 and member of the Merkel government since then
It is the most experienced at the national level
Quickly set up a financial rescue plan for flood victims
Her profile is seen as close to that of Merkel, which could attract supporters of the prime minister.
Strong loyalty of supporters: 80% would mark minister’s name on ballot if they could, poll finds
Party: Christian Democratic Union (CDU)
Current position: Governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, the largest German state
Career: Law graduate, worked as a journalist until the early years of his political career; he was German and European MP and Secretary for Generations, Family, Women and Integration and Federal Affairs, Europe and Media in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state he now rules
Has administrative experience
He leads the party of popular Prime Minister Angela Merkel and is the closest candidate to conservative voters
Won a tough internal election to become the Union candidate
He is met with resistance from his supporters: only 38% of CDU supporters say they would choose him if the prime minister was directly elected, according to a poll.
Your image was scratched after the July floods
A government program criticized for its imprecision
Age: 40 years old
Current position: party co-chair
Background: Graduated in political science and public law, she began her political life as an advisor to the European Parliament in 2005; Member since 2013 and co-chairman of the German Green Party since 2018)
is the only woman in the conflict
He is seen as dynamic and determined
Represents a change after decades of Union and SPD governments
The government platform is seen as more concrete
Beat the record of support for the election of the party’s co-chair, with 97.1% of the vote
no management experience
She was accused of plagiarism and inflating her resume, which resulted in the rejection of her name. Among Green supporters, 57% say they would vote for her as prime minister, according to a poll.
Opponents say Greens’ environmental policy will increase cost of living