Elections in Germany: Angela Merkel is pushing for a successor in Germany’s razor-sharp polls

Elections in Germany: Angela Merkel is pushing for a successor in Germany’s razor-sharp polls


Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the Germans on Saturday to give their would-be successor Armin Laschet their vote for the future of Germany.

The 60-year-old Laschet is in the race for the Chancellery behind his social democratic challenger Olaf Scholz, although the g is in the error range in the last polls, which makes the vote one of the most unpredictable in recent years.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the Germans on Saturday to give their would-be successor Armin Laschet their vote for the future of Germany.

The 60-year-old Laschet is in the race for the Chancellery behind his social democratic challenger Olaf Scholz, although the g is in the error range in the last polls, which makes the vote one of the most unpredictable in recent years.

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Merkel had planned to hold back in the election campaign in order to withdraw from politics after 16 years in power. But she was drawn into the hectic election campaign plan of the unpopular party leader Laschet.

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In the last week of the election campaign, Merkel Laschet led her constituency on the Baltic coast and led the Conservative rally in Munich on Friday.

On Friday, Merkel tugged at the hearts of the predominantly older German voters and called on them to keep their conservatives in power for reasons of stability – a trademark of Germany.

One day before the vote, she traveled to Laschet’s hometown and constituency of Aachen, a health resort near Germany’s western border with Belgium and the Netherlands, where he was born and still lives.

“It’s about your future, the future of your children and the future of your parents,” she said at her last rally in front of the polls and called for strong mobilization for her conservative alliance.

Climate at the top of the agenda

She emphasized that climate protection was a key challenge for the next government, but that this could not be achieved “simply through rules and regulations”.

“To do this, we need new technological developments, new processes, researchers, interested parties who are thinking about how to do this, and people who participate,” she said.

Laschet is a “bridge builder who brings people on board” in Germany in order to master these challenges, she said.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets on Friday to call for changes and more climate protection. A leading activist called Sunday’s election the “one century” vote.

On Saturday, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg said at a rally near the German Garzweiler mine, one of the largest in Europe, that the elections “will not solve the crisis, whatever the outcome”.

“You have to keep mobilizing, organizing and taking to the streets,” she said.

At the other end of the country, too, Scholz stayed near his home to hunt down the last votes.

In response to questions from voters in his constituency of Potsdam – a city on the outskirts of Berlin famous for its palaces that once housed Prussian kings – Scholz said he was fighting for “a big change in this country, a new government” under the leadership by him.

He also gave an outlook on the future government he hopes to lead and said: “Perhaps it will be enough, for example, to form a government between the SPD and the Greens”.

Scholz, currently finance minister in Merkel’s coalition government, made no mistakes in the election campaign and largely secured his backing when he sold himself as a “continuity candidate” to Merkel instead of Laschet.

Called cable, but boring, Scholz has repeatedly beaten Laschet by a large margin in terms of popularity.

“Could backfire”

When election day loomed, Laschet’s conservatives closed the g, with a poll only one percentage point behind the 26 percent of the SPD.

Laschet went seriously injured from a tough fight for the Conservatives’ candidacy into the race for the Chancellery.

Nevertheless, his party had a clear lead over the SPD in the summer.

But Laschet giggled behind President Frank-Walter Steinmeier as he paid tribute to the victims of fatal floods in July, an image that would turn the mood drastically against him and his party.

When polls showed that the SPD was increasing its lead, the conservatives turned to their greatest asset – the still widespread Merkel.

However, sinking the Chancellor is not without risks, said the political scientist Oskar Niedermayer from the Free University of Berlin.

“Merkel is still the most popular politician. But the pair can become a problem for Laschet because they are then immediately compared, ”he said.

“And it could backfire because people might think Merkel was more apt than Laschet.”

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