How Angela Merkel will decide Germany’s future despite step down – latest polls
Angela Merkel heckled during speech in German Bundestag
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Angela Merkel has served as German Chancellor since 2005, known as ‘Mutti’ (a German form of ‘mama’) to her supporters. But now, as she prepares to stand down after the September 26 election, her long-reigning Christian Democratic Union (CDU) looks all but certain to lose power.
The latest opinion poll for the Forsa Institute suggests the Social Democratic Party (SPD) is on course to win the election with 25 percent of the vote.
The CDU, however, has fallen as low as 19 percent, thought to be the party’s lowest rating ever measured by Forsa since 1949.
The other key rival, the Greens, are polling around 17 percent.
This week, Ms Merkel broke her pattern of silence during this election campaign to attack the SPD leader, Olaf Scholz.
She warned that voting for the SPD would mean voting for the far left, saying that “Germany faces a choice of direction”.
However, some experts believe that Mr Scholz is representing the one thing the CDU isn’t offering anymore: More Merkel.
Mr Scholz is believed to offer the closest match with Ms Merkel – a prudent finance minister and moderate with policy platforms of higher minimum wage, more affordable housing and stable pensions.
Daniela Schwarzer, of the Open Society Foundations in Berlin, said: “There is no appetite for policy change or style change.
“But there is an appetite for a non-CDU chancellor at some point.
“There is an increasing number of people who are fed up with Merkel’s habit of muffling politics, of not solving things, of leading from behind. But at the same time, they don’t want disruption.”
Germans may want to keep Merkel’s style and broad policy approach but they also want the next chancellor to fix problems Merkel has left, including low paid jobs, digital backwardness, timid climate policies.
The CDU is now faced with the uncomfortable reality that, without Angela Merkel, voters aren’t loyal to the party.
An SPD ally said: “The party [CDU] always relied on Merkel’s power. You can call it complacency”.
The CDU’s prospects are further hampered by the increasing unpopularity of Ms Merkel’s successor, Armin Laschet.
When catastrophic floods devastated parts of western Germany, Mr Laschet was filmed laughing in the background as the President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, paid tribute to the victims.
The clip cemented his reputation for incompetency among the electorate, and his ratings have never recovered.
The aforementioned Forsa poll suggests only nine percent of Germans back him as chancellor, with Mr Scholz polling 30 percent and the Greens’ candidate Annalena Baerbock on 15 percent.
However, the pollsters also suggest that had the leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, Markus Söder, been chosen as the conservative candidate to succeed Mrs Merkel then he would be far ahead of the party’s rivals.
Ms Merkel is now doing what she can this late in the game to rally support around the CDU.
Speaking this week, she said voters had two options – either a government made up of the centre-left and the Greens “which accepts the support of the left-wing party, or at least doesn’t exclude it”, or a conservative-led government with her party’s candidate Mr Laschet a the head.
She told the Bundestag: “That is exactly what Germany needs.
A Laschet government stood for stability, reliability, moderation and centrality, she contended.
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