Brussels (Brussels Morning) German Social Democrats (SPD) chancellor-candidate Olaf Scholz again emerged as the winner after the second televised debate between the three leading contenders for the post of Germany’s next chancellor.
According to an ARD television snap poll taken after Sunday’s debate, Scholz was rated the clear winner by 41% of respondents, compared to 27% for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) candidate Armin Laschet and 25% for Greens’ candidate Annalena Baerbock.
Scholz, currently Germany’s vice-chancellor and Minister of Finance, thus defended his lead as the most popular chancellor-candidate of the three. Apparently, he was untouched by last week’s raid in the Finance Ministry, where federal prosecutors probed the suspected failure by the government’s anti-money-laundering agency to flag suspicious money transfers to Africa.
Laschet pressured Scholz on the raid, claiming his home state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where he serves as Premier, would have a serious problem if its Finance Minister worked like Scholz. The Social Democrat responded sternly, accusing Laschet of painting a misleading picture, stressing that the raid had focused on a single employee, not the entire ministry.
Greens’ Baerbock cites climate crisis
Baerbock slammed both men and their parties, currently sharing power, for failing to do enough to combat the climate crisis, emphasising that the next government will be “one of the last” to have an active effect on the climate crisis.
In recent weeks, Scholz’s SPD has been rising steadily rising in the polls. It gained a further point this weekend to extend its lead over the CDU to 6 percentage points. SPD now stands at 26% and CDU at 20%. The Greens lost another point in the course of last week and are now at 15%, some 10 points down since their peak in the spring, when they briefly overtook CDU to emerge in first place.
Though SPD and the Greens will likely form a coalition after the elections, they will need the support of a third party, either the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), currently polling at around 12%, or the far-left the Left, now polling at around 6-7%.
During the TV debate, Laschet echoed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent criticism of SPD, slamming the party for contemplating a coalition with anti-NATO and eurosceptic the Left. Scholz refused to rule out such a coalition. However, he did stress that the party would have to change its position on NATO and the EU in order to enter the government.