Merkel's Candidate Seeks To Turn Tide In Election Debate


Merkel's candidate seeks to turn tide in election debate

Frankfurt, Sept 12 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 12th Sep, 2021 ) :A televised election debate on Sunday marks one of the last chances for Germany's struggling chancellor candidate Armin Laschet, from Angela Merkel's conservative camp, to close the gap with his centre-left rival.

Two weeks before voters head to the polls, gaffe-prone Laschet will face off against Finance Minister Olaf Scholz from the Social Democrats (SPD) and Annalena Baerbock from the left-leaning Greens in the second of three primetime debates.

The first general election of the post-Merkel era has become an unexpected nailbiter in Europe's top economy.

Surveys show support for Merkel's centre-right CDU/CSU bloc plummeting to historic lows of around 20 percent while the SPD has come from behind to lead at around 26 percent.

With the Greens polling at 15 percent, a number of coalition outcomes are possible -- but observers say the chances of one-time frontrunner Laschet taking the crown are fading fast.

Bild newspaper said the debate could be make-or-break for Laschet.

"To turn the tide, he needs a clear success," it wrote.

Viewers were left unconvinced by Laschet's performance in the first debate last month, when Scholz was declared the winner.

- 'Historic debacle' - Laschet, the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state, has been on a downward spiral following a series of missteps, including being caught on camera laughing during a tribute to victims of Germany's deadly floods in July.

Scholz meanwhile, although often described as wooden and uncharismatic, has run an error-free campaign.

As vice-chancellor and guardian of the nation's finances, the 63-year-old has positioned himself as the continuity candidate and the natural heir to Merkel's legacy -- despite hailing from a rival party.

The CDU/CSU alliance that has dominated Germany's post-war politics now faces a "historic debacle" on September 26, Der Spiegel weekly news magazine wrote.

In a sign of growing nervousness, conservatives have gone on the attack against Scholz, accusing him of riding on Merkel's coat-tails and of trying to steer Germany to the left.

Even Merkel, who is bowing out after 16 years in power and had vowed to stay out of the election battle, has joined the fray.

She visited a flood-hit region with Laschet and used a speech in parliament this week to cast him as the best choice to succeed her, saying he stood for "stability" and "centrism".