Candidates for the general election Alice Weidel, AfD, Christian Lindner, FDP, Markus Soeder, CSU, and Armin Laschet, CDU, attend a final televised debate ahead of the election in Berlin, Germany September 23, 2021. [Photo/Agencies] The man who replaced retiring party leader Angela Merkel in January at the helm of Germany‘s ruling Christian Democratic Union and who the party and Merkel hope will succeed her as chancellor in Sunday’s federal election has made an impassioned plea for voters to back him.
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Armin Laschet, who has struggled in pre-election polling since he was filmed laughing during a visit to a flood-ravaged area, invoked the specter of a rabidly left-wing government running the country if voters fail to support him.
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He said during a TV debate that Germany‘s far-left Die Linke party, a successor of the communists who ran East Germany, could return from the political wilderness if his party, which is also known as the CDU, is beaten by arch rivals the Social Democratic Party, or SDP.
Laschet claimed the left-of-center SPD would invite Die Linke to join a coalition government; and challenged party leader Olaf Scholz to deny it.
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“You have to have a clear position on the extremists,” the Reuters news agency quoted Laschet as saying. “I don’t understand why it’s so hard for you to say’I won’t enter a coalition with this party’.”
Scholz has said his preferred coalition partner would be the Green Party, but he has refused to rule out Die Linke
Both the SPD and the CDU have said they will not form a coalition with the extreme right-wing, anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany
The Financial Times said, with the clock ticking down to the election, the race and the many possible coalition governments that could form, is closer than it has been at any time during Merkel‘s 16 years in power
The paper said Germany‘s model of two dominant political parties has been replaced by something more fragmented
“For so many people, the primary loyalty was to Merkel and now she’s going,” Andrea Rommele, a professor of communication in politics at the Hertie School in Berlin, told the Financial Times. “We have an extremely high volatility among voters; more than 50 percent of them are open in all directions.”
Pundits say Germany could even be governed by its first-ever three-party coalition
Omid Nouripour, a Green Party lawmaker, told the Financial Times: “People are no longer as closely affiliated to a particular party as they used to be. There’s a new fluidity in politics.”
The BBC noted that Laschet‘s claim that a vote for the SPD could let in the extreme left is likely to be a hard sell
The broadcaster said, after spending the past eight years as a junior member of Merkel‘s coalition government, the SPD is seen by many as part of the establishment. And it said Scholz, who has been Germany‘s vice-chancellor for much of that time, is viewed by many Merkel supporters as a continuity candidate
As of Thursday, the CDU was projected to win 22 percent of the vote, which was 15 points down on where it was in April 2020. The SPD, which started the year with 15 percent, was expected to land around 25 percent. And the Green Party, which had a whopping 28 percent of the vote in April, has slumped in recent polls to 15 percent