Brussels (Brussels Morning) The German Social Democrats’ (SPD) chancellor-candidate Olaf Scholz was perceived by most voters as the winner in Sunday’s third and final televised debate with other leading candidates to succeed Anglea Merkel . It was his third consecutive win as the campaign draws to a close with his party continuing to lead in the polls.
Scholz faced Christian Democrats’ (CDU) candidate Armin Laschet and the Greens’ candidate Annalena Baerbock in the Sunday’s televised debate. Currently Germany’s vice-chancellor and Finance Minister, Scholz, attacked Laschet over social inequality, promising to raise the minimum wage to 12 euro per hour as chancellor.
Both Scholz and Baerbock noted it would be good for CDU to enter the opposition, since the party has ruled for the past 16 years with Chancellor Merkel at the helm. Merkel has announced her intention to retire.
Her chosen successor in the party, North Rhine-Westphalia premier Laschet, has struggled to turn the departing chancellor’s popularity into a widespread support for the party and himself as her successor as the head of government.
Laughing at tragedy
His blunder during the flood crisis in his home state – when he was filmed laughing while President Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed condolences to the families of those killed – saw his personal rating plummet, pushing him to the last position among the three candidates.
His party is hovering at an historic low of around 21%, trailing five points behind SPD’s 26%. Scholz hopes for a coalition with the Greens, currently polling at around 15%. However, the main question remains which third party will back the red-green coalition, as they the two together will be unable to form government.
CDU members did their best to discourage coalition attempts with either the far-left the Left or the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP). Merkel herself, in a rare show of emotion in the Bundestag, warned against those who would flirt with the far left, and Laschet attempted to discredit Scholz by claiming he would welcome the far left in his cabinet. At the same time, CDU called on FDP not to enter a coalition with SPD and the Greens.
FDP leader Christian Lindner refused to rule out such a coalition on Sunday, telling the CDU he would not be taking orders from the Christian Democrats. Scholz, on the other hand, made it clear that the Left would only be welcomed in the government if they change their anti-EU and anti-NATO stance and align themselves with SPD policies.