More than two weeks before the German parliamentary elections, the prospects for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats remain bleak. In a poll published Friday, the partnership of its CDU and sister party CSU supports 22 percent of the respondents. However, it is 3 percentage points behind the Social Democratic SPD of Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.
The CDU/CSU union has been taking heavy blows in the polls for some time, which is causing great concern within the Christian Democratic camp. However, Merkel, who is stepping down as chancellor after 16 years, emphasized on Thursday that the outcome of the elections is not yet certain. She said the campaign is still in progress.
That campaign is not going smoothly for Merkel’s intended successor, Armin Laschet. During a conversation with voters on television on Thursday, he again expressed regret for an incident after the flood earlier this year. The Prime Minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which borders on the Netherlands, was laughing in the disaster area during a speech by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Laschet explained during the ZDF program that he did not hear what Steinmeier was talking about at the time. “Someone standing next to me said something stupid, and it made me laugh,” said the chancellor’s candidate, who admitted he had made a mistake. “It annoys me. It was stupid. But I can’t undo it.”
The fact that the CDU member Laschet does not seem to be able to turn the tide is also causing resentment among the smaller sister party CSU from Bavaria. He had initially put forward party leader Markus Söder as the chancellor’s candidate, but he made way for Laschet after an internal power struggle.
CSU top executive Markus Blume recently told Der Spiegel that “of course” the parties would have been better off in the election campaign if Söder had become the chancellor’s candidate. Laschet later responded by saying that he has the support of many CSU members, including Söder himself.
Laschet attends a CSU party conference on Saturday. Unity must then be radiated in particular in the run-up to the elections on 26 September. The state prime minister will debate on television on Sunday with his main rivals: the social democrat Scholz and Annalena Baerbock of De Groenen.