Angela Merkel admits her party could finally lose power after she stepped down this month, with polls showing support has crumbled
- Chancellor said she always knew her party wouldn’t ‘automatically’ win
- Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union has been in power for 16 years now
- But it is currently lagging in the polls behind the centre-left Social Democrats
- The party has little time for the September 26 parliamentary elections
Angela Merkel has admitted her party could finally lose power after she resigns later this month, with polls showing her support has crumbled.
The German chancellor said on Thursday that her party is fighting and has always been aware that she would not “automatically” keep Germany’s top job after 16 years in power, but downplayed the alarming polls as elections approached.
Recent polls have shown Merkel’s union bloc under future successor Armin Laschet is second behind the centre-left Social Democrats, with very low support of around 20 percent.
Laschet, the chancellor candidate for Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc, has long been the favorite to become Germany’s next leader, but his ratings have plummeted after a series of missteps.
The party has little time to turn things around before the September 26 parliamentary elections.
Angela Merkel (pictured Thursday) has admitted her party could finally lose power after she resigns later this month, with polls showing her support has crumbled.
Merkel has largely stayed out of the campaign, although she has made a number of interventions of late — most recently, attacking the possibility of a future left-wing government and trying to boost Laschet in an unusually partisan speech to parliament on Tuesday.
When asked Thursday at a news conference if she was concerned her record would be tarnished by her party losing the chancellery, Merkel replied that “we are in the middle of the election campaign and I see (it) is really fighting. ‘
She added that what happens on Election Day counts, so she won’t speculate.
“It was clear to everyone in the CDU and CSU that after 16 years we would not automatically and effortlessly return to the chancellery,” Merkel said.
She was referring to her Christian Democratic Union, which Laschet now leads, and her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.
Markus Soeder, the Bavarian governor and CSU leader who competed with Laschet for the nomination to become chancellor earlier this year, told dpa news agency that “if there’s one more chance to break the trend, it’s this weekend.”
Pictured: The last session of the German Bundestag before the federal parliamentary elections on September 7, 2021 in Berlin
He referred to a CSU party congress to be held on Friday and Saturday — and likely the second of three televised debates between the three candidates for the chancellor, to be held on Sunday.
The first debate on August 29 failed to lift Laschet.
Laschet’s response to the flooding in his state was the beginning of a downward shift for the 60-year-old, after he was caught on camera joking with local officials during a tribute to flood victims.
If the alliance’s fortunes don’t improve soon, it could fall out of government in favor of an SPD-led alliance – most likely with the Greens and either the liberal FDP or the far-left Die Linke.
The Social Democrats have also benefited from the relative popularity of their candidate, Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, in the first election since 1949, with no incumbent seeking reelection.
Polls show that environmentalist Groenen, whose co-leader Annalena Baerbock is going to the chancellery for the first time, is in third place.
Merkel said in 2018 she would not aim for a fifth term. Scholz has been trying to portray herself as her natural successor lately, even though he is of a different party.
At the same time, the Union has increasingly warned that Scholz, a centrist figure, would form a coalition with the left opposition party Left, which hates NATO and opposes German military missions abroad. Scholz doesn’t rule that out, but it’s clearly not his favorite option.
When asked what she appreciates about Scholz, Merkel replied briefly: “We both stick to it when we talk about something and agree on something.”