Five weeks before the parliamentary elections in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel gave firm support on Saturday August 21 to her conservative runner-up Armin Laschet, mired in difficulties during the campaign, saying to herself “Deeply convinced” that he would succeed him. The 67-year-old chancellor, who signed up for the first time by participating in a meeting of her conservative camp in Berlin, insisted on the human qualities of Armin Laschet, capable, according to her, “To build bridges between people”.
“It has always been important for him to place individual and inalienable dignity at the center of everything”, she hammered. “I am deeply convinced” than “It is with this attitude that he will serve the Germans as chancellor”, she added while the campaign of the candidate of her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), for the September 26 poll, is slipping. The CDU, along with its Bavarian ally CSU, remains in the lead in voting intentions but has fallen to between 22% and 23%, down from around 30% a few weeks ago. Since the beginning of the year when he pranced at 36%, the fall has been dizzying.
Discretion as a watchword
Angela Merkel, who is preparing to retire from political life after sixteen years in power, had so far given the slogan to remain very discreet in view of the election to leave the field open to her designated successor. Faced with this tumble in the polls, she is now trying, thanks to the record popularity that she continues to enjoy despite her thirty-one years of political career, to glean points for the conservatives.
Weakened by a series of blunders, Armin Laschet attacked his two main rivals, the Social Democrats and the Greens, claiming to want “Fight with all I can so that this country is not ruled by ideologues”. His party, which largely dominated post-war political life, “Wants to govern not because we want to govern but because we have to govern so that Germany takes the right path”, he said in front of a hundred activists.
The Conservatives are now closely followed by the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which, led by the Minister of Finance, Olaf Scholz, has made a surprise rise with 21% of voting intentions, according to the latest polls. With a current score of only 17%, environmentalists have been going through a long slump since the beginning of the summer, far from the euphoria that had followed in April the announcement of the candidacy of Annalena Baerbock. The Greens had even then overtaken the Conservatives in the polls.
Reputed not to be charismatic and a poor speaker, Olaf Scholz was able to develop an image of competence among voters when Armin Laschet and Annalena Baerbock multiplied blunders and had to defend themselves against accusations of plagiarism.
Political cost of flood management
The political mismanagement of the deadly floods in July in the west of the country by Armin Laschet, leader of one of the two regions hit by the disaster, also cost him dearly in terms of popularity and encouraged the rise of the SPD. The images showing him hilariously behind President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in the midst of the flood, aroused stigma and had a calamitous effect on a man who has never been unanimous in his own political formation.
While the results of the vote will be scrutinized throughout Europe, Armin Laschet is increasingly contested in the ranks of his party where some are demanding that he withdraw his candidacy. Laboriously elected at the head of the CDU in January, this 60-year-old centrist then had all the trouble in the world to win against his Bavarian rival Markus Söder for the head of the CDU-CSU list.
The latter nevertheless assured him on Saturday: “Armin, you can count on my support, I say this in all honesty. “ But he also sounded the alarm, believing that the current trend was ” Claire “. “It’s tight, it will be very tight and everyone must understand” that the stake is all or nothing, he insisted, before adding: “I have no desire to go in the opposition. “