Merkel humiliation: CDU set to lose in elections but Chancellor not out of picture yet

SPD might form a coalition with the CDU in Germany says expert

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The Social Democrat (SPD) candidate to become Germany’s next chancellor beat his conservative rival in a primetime TV debate on Sunday, a snap poll showed, further boosting his campaign to succeed Angela Merkel in an election in two weeks’ time. The conservatives are missing the pulling power of Merkel, a conservative, who is not running again after four election victories and 16 years leading Europe’s biggest economy. The SPD leads the conservatives in polls and its candidate Olaf Scholz, currently finance minister, brushed off verbal attacks from Armin Laschet on his record on tackling money-laundering and whether he would ally with a far-left party.

France 24 correspondent Nick Spicer said: “It’s all about momentum in politics and the final stretch of the campaign.

“The German elections don’t really have long campaign seasons; they are about six weeks unlike the US where you run for president for two years.

“People only pay attention for a short period of time.

“Short of something really dramatic, some kind giant scandal involving the integrity of some of the leading figures in the social democratic party, it’s hard to see how this could be turned around.

“But let’s keep in mind how Germany is run coalition governments.

“The Social Democrats could be the first party but they might form a coalition Hovernment with the Christian Democratic Union or one with the greens.

“They might not be completely out of the picture, they might still be participating in the government but it looks like the next chancellor could well be a social democrat.”

A snap poll for ARD television taken soon after the 90-minute debate showed that 41 percent of those asked thought Scholz was the most convincing performer, compared to 27 percent for Laschet and 25 percent for the Greens candidate, Annalena Baerbock.

Angela Merkel heckled during speech in German Bundestag

Laschet accused Scholz of failing in his supervision responsibilities in light of raids last week on the finance and justice ministries that were part of an investigation into the government’s anti-money-laundering agency.

“If my finance minister were to work like you, then we would have a serious problem,” said Laschet.

An unruffled Scholz cast Laschet a steely look and accused his opponent of twisting facts and being “dishonest” by suggesting there was a probe of his ministry, whereas investigators simply needed information from it.

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An opinion poll on Sunday showed that the SPD had extended their lead over the conservatives. The INSA poll put the SPD on 26 percent, up a point from a week ago and at their highest rating since June 2017. The conservatives were unchanged at 20 percent and the Greens were down 1 point at 15 percent.

In the last three months, the conservatives have lost 8-9 percentage points. Laschet, the jovial if uncharismatic leader of Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia, is trying to make up for mistakes during the campaign.

In a damaging gaffe, he was caught on camera laughing during a visit to a town hit by lethal floods in July. He apologised.

This week’s edition of the influential Spiegel magazine has a front-cover picture of Laschet holding his hands in front of his mouth with the headline “Oooops”.

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