Brussels (Brussels Morning) German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a rare appeal to the country’s voters on Tuesday evening, calling for Germans to back her party’s chancellor-candidate Armin Laschet, who also succeeded her as head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Speaking in the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, Merkel stoked fears of the Left party, warning that the people have a choice between a government that accepts the support of the far left, or at least does not exclude it and a government led by Armin Laschet that “leads our country into the future with moderation”.
Merkel’s centre right conservatives have been sliding in the polls in recent weeks, with Laschet’s personal popularity dropping far behind the other two top contenders for the spot of the chancellor – the Greens’ candidate Annalena Baerbock and the Social Democrats (SPD) candidate Olaf Scholz, current vice chancellor and Finance Minister. Merkel herself has no intention to run again, having announced her plans to retire.
The SPD is widening its recent lead in the polls, and its support is now at 25%, ahead of the CDU’s 19%, a historic low for the party which ruled Germany for the past 16 years. But the SPD will need the backing of a third party, other than the Greens, in order to form a government.
Two options remain for the centre-left Social Democrats. They can seek the backing of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), which is polling at around 12%, and which is currently not dismissing a possible coalition with the socialists. However, while the Greens and the SPD agree on many policy plans, such as raising the minimum wage and taxing the rich, they would likely clash on these issues with the FDP.
The second option is the far left the Left, which has historically taken radical positions on finance and foreign policy, opposing the NATO alliance and conservative fiscal policy. Scholz has openly stated that the Left could be a part of the government only if it changes its positions on these issues.