Germany election polls: SPD accused of hiding left wing co-leader as they take poll lead

Angela Merkel heckled during speech in German Bundestag

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The German federal election is fewer than two weeks away and with Chancellor Angela Merkel stepping down after 16 years in power, the door is open for a number of candidates to take the helm. While it’s still too early for any of the parties to crack open the Champagne, the Social Democrats have acquired a stellar lead in the polls following a three-way debate between the leading candidates.

The SPD’s candidate, Olaf Scholz, shone through as the clear winner during Sunday’s penultimate debate before polling day on September 26.

Two polls following the debate concluded viewers found Mr Scholz to be the strongest candidate in the race across a range of criteria, from likeability to competence.

Polls are putting the centre-left SPD ahead by as much as six percentage points, but a coalition is still likely with other parties.

Polls indicate an agreement with the Green and the Free Democrats, or a fully left wing alliance with the Greens and the Left.

Ms Merkel’s hopeful successor, Armin Laschet, from the Christian Democrats, has come up short in recent polls as he failed to undermine trust in Mr Scholz in recent debates.

Mr Laschet originally entered the campaign as the frontrunner, but has failed to charm the German electorate with his centrist ideals and stoic demeanour.

As the game looks like the SPD’s to win, there is still a key player that could provide ammo for the conservative side.

Saskia Esken, co-leader of the SPD for nearly two years, is a relatively hard left politician in the party, which has caused concern for right wing contenders in the polls.

Mr Scholz, the SPD candidate, is a centrist in the Merkel mold, whereas much of his party has veered to the left in recent years.

That, for example, is why the party faithful rejected Mr Scholz’s bid for the chairmanship in 2019, in favour of a leftist duo, Ms Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans.

Ms Merkel has already declared that the election of the SPD would rule out a “future with moderation” with the CDU.

Following Sunday’s debate, Health Minister Jens Spahn of the CDU accused the SPD of “hiding” Esken, while a journalist claimed to have seen her at a fries stand near the studio moments earlier, raising the question as to why she declined an invitation to appear on the programme.

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At a press conference this afternoon, Ms Esken dismissed the scare stories.

She said: “All these campaigns that deal with Olaf Scholz or my dinner are a clear sign that CDU/CSU are panicking.”

Mr Laschet also went after Mr Scholz for not ruling out a coalition with the Left party, the ideological successor to East Germany’s communist party, a scenario the conservative candidate branded “extremely dangerous.”

However, Ms Merkel’s party will need to regroup in the coming fortnight to gain any hope of getting ahead of the SPD.

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