Angela Merkel is still popular, but her party is struggling. For the first time since World War Two, polls show Christian Democrats are in the bottom 20 percent. And if the other parties can work together to form a coalition, they can force Merkel’s party to step down from power.
“European cohesion in these difficult times, a strong economy and industry with a neutral climate, and a clear direction for national security.”
Voters may agree with the message, but Laschet himself does not appear to be. While visiting flood-hit areas in Germany last July, Laschet was caught on camera laughing during a speech by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
By contrast the Social Democratic candidate, Olaf Scholz, is leading in several opinion polls. Scholz, who is currently in the coalition government as finance minister, is the favorite to replace Merkel.
“He (Scholz.red) has a stable position in several opinion polls. His performance as a minister is good. He lacks charisma and charm, but he covers it with stability. And all this is helped by the weakness of this election itself,” said Gero Neugebauer, a political scientist at Berlin’s Freie University.
In the latest election debate on television, Scholz appeared convincing.
“Many citizens see me as the leader of the next government, the next chancellor. And I openly said I was ready to build a coalition government with the Green Party,” said Scholz.
The Green Party, led by Annalena Baerbock, is third in some polls. They are ready to form a coalition government but do not yet have clear rules of the deal.
“Because there is so little time spent fighting climate change, we will not be able to compromise much on climate policies,” said Green Party candidate in Leipzig, Paula Piechotta.
Smaller parties – including the Free Democrats or the Left Party – can become “kingmakers” or parties with political influence and can bring together leaders to work together or in coalitions. The three main parties have ruled out collaborating with the far-right Alternative For Germany and polled about 10 percent of the public’s support.
On issues that can divide voters, polls show generational differences in looking at an issue.
Jun Kinoshita, a 28-year-old voter, said an important topic for him was climate change.
As for Corinna Anand, who is 35 years old, apart from climate change, the issues she wants to know from the candidates are education and child care services.
For Dirk Zeller, who is 54 years old, the important issues that candidates must address are pensions, employment opportunities and how to cope with rising costs of gas and electricity, which are now increasingly expensive.
While Briggitte, who is 54 years old, said Germany’s richest people are getting richer because of the coronavirus. While many people rate their livelihoods as deteriorating and today they have much bigger problems than before.
Some Germans expect change to happen soon. Talks to form a coalition government are likely to take months, and Merkel will remain in charge of government until the warring parties can agree on a successor. [em/lt]