German parties go to the polls with the wrong best candidates. The election campaign became a strange confrontation between the second best.
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Even Willy Brandt (1913-1992) and Helmut Schmidt (1918-2015) are now immersed.
CDU in crisis
The conservative Christian Democrats of the CDU/CSU struggle with Armin Laschet (60)—a friendly man in a wrinkled suit and his own ability to walk all the dog places he might be nearby. There is usually not much.
The deep laughter during the president’s mourning speech for the victims of the river disaster in the federal state of Laschet was the reason his party now appears in free fall.
From being above the 30 percent, CDU/CSU is fighting to avoid dropping below the 20 mark.
It is clear that Armin Laschet is doing his best. But it lacks its own features and new kicks. Almost daily he is subjected to kicks and taunts from Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder, who lost the battle to become the sister parties’ candidate – and who is now taking revenge on the winner by making him appear as helpless as possible. .
Opinion polls on the same indicate that Sodder would have won more votes than Laschet appears to have been able to win.
Annalena Barbock, 40, of the Greens is also struggling. She overtook the most experienced co-leader Robert Habeck (51) during the settlement of which of them would get a chance to become the country’s first green chancellor.
In the early weeks, she reaped good words and pats on her shoulders, while measurements jumped above her thirties. But then she was subjected to her autobiographical pimping and the theft of many quotes in a book about her own vision of the future.
So the support declined as Barbock cutting his teeth had to spend more and more precious airtime explaining, apologizing, and apologizing.
“No Robert Overta”
Magic was as if it had been abolished, and so was the credibility of the woman who considered herself qualified to hold the most important office in the republic. Already in July, they were the first to make demands that Beerbuck should think first of all about his party, save the logs – and let Robert Habeck take over the leadership shirt.
For his part, he did most things right during the election campaign. And from Habek’s mouth, it doesn’t sound like a threat when he proposes a future conservation minister to have a senior position — with veto power against other ministries.
It also does not allow deceiving competitors to raise his voice and turn to lies when there are good arguments.
But Annalena Burbock only snores when asked if she really doesn’t want to leave the wheel for Robert Habeck.
Miss a historic opportunity?
The little scandal was last weekend when she repeated her snoring during an interview with ARD. What would Annalena Burbock say to her children in 2040, the reporter asked, when she had to explain what happened when her mother prevented the Greens from coming to power — with a historic opportunity at a time when something could have been done to mitigate the climate crisis?
(The hostess later apologized for the possibility that the question was gender-biased—but she should have been allowed—even my stepmother—to ask.)
Otherwise, last week’s climate message is mired in a promise that the Barbock government will pay €1,000 to subsidize transport bikes. Think – in the country of cars Germany, you will donate state money to people who intend to buy a bike?
The red-eyed blond middle-aged gentlemen almost went crazy in the comment fields.
SPD’s Olaf Schultz (63) held onto 16 per cent for several months – and reaped the most laughs when he presented himself as the country’s next chancellor.
He holds the position of Finance Minister in the alliance between the SPD and the CDU, and thus Deputy Chancellor Angela Merkel.
gift from above
For Schulze, the flood disaster must have been a gift from above.
While Laschet received passive attention in shovels and buckets, the finance minister put in dangerous folds and gave the impression that he listened when survivors spoke of the most urgent help.
Annalena Baerbock never came into the spotlight, because she claimed she traveled around the disaster area alone – and she wouldn’t be accused of hitting a political coin in a climate tragedy.
If it weren’t for her preference to hide from reporters and all their annoying questions about various bugs.
And so party comrades had to testify how she did not take the opportunity to point out the link between climate change and natural disasters — let alone attack the government for being responsible for not warning victims in advance.
He doesn’t like them themselves
When the Social Democratic Party last year called on members to elect a new leadership – made up of a woman and a man – Schulz was overtaken by the radar couple Saskia Esken (60) and Norbert Walter Borjans (68).
The internal election campaign was as fierce as it usually is at Willy-Brandt-Haus, and there was no pleasing picture of him painted by Olaf Scholz’s party comrades.
The man has been described as a beacon to the party’s right-wing, one who bears much of the blame for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s introduction of his brutal social policy.
Party leaders are far to the left of the SPD, and Saskia Esken in particular often throws political grenades.
But in recent weeks it has been quite calm from that edge. Not even Vice Chairman – rising star Kevin Kuhnert (32) – sticks his snout at the occasional provocation.
On the contrary, he is now talking about Olaf and the wonderful work Olaf has done as Minister of Finance and Vice-Chancellor. Last year, Kohnert wasn’t even sure if the term “democratic socialist” fit Olaf Schultz.
At the moment, there are five possible alliances after the elections.
There is no doubt that many Greens hope to collaborate with CDU and SPD. But in the SPD – as well as parts of the Green Party – they are now beginning to imagine a red, green and red government in which Die linke also participates.
This party seems – for obvious reasons – like a red cloth to many competitors. Based on the Communist Party of the German Democratic Republic, the party is a staunch opponent of Germany’s membership in NATO and wants to establish friendly relations with Moscow.
Olaf Schultz would not flatly reject the possibility of forming a left-wing government with himself as leader, but he avoids saying that this would be impossible if D. Link continued his opposition to NATO – which in effect means that he is already closed to that possibility.
Behind the party leaders sing
Schulz is accused of bringing about political change, and that he is in fact willing to swallow a lot of beauty, if that is what it takes to make him a chancellor.
For now, he promises to offer a year-long program with the start of intensive climate action and the raising of the minimum wage to twelve euros. Otherwise, there are not many specific battles in his program.
And everyone knows that it’s the Kohnert, Esken and Walter Burgan lurking in the background who run the party – and they really stand for very different positions than their candidate for chancellor.
With competitors going all out to spoil their chances, it’s not entirely necessary for Olaf Schultz to do more than give his standard answers when asked about something – and continue to make sure he doesn’t say anything that might provoke one side or the other.
Such a candidate obviously seems more reassuring than those who lie about their own background or laugh in the wrong place.
The SPD candidate likes to portray himself as a likeness of Angela Merkel, who for the past four years has been the outgoing prime minister’s right-hand man.
However, those running the campaign have settled on a different model. When the videos are now shown on screen, it’s with photos of Olaf Schulz, but with the voice of long-deceased Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in the background.
The message is that this man can deal with flood disasters and other accidents just as effectively as the legendary Schmidt.
(Although many of Schmidt’s myths about Schmidt weren’t true.)
In the Dahlem district of Berlin, the head of the local Social Democratic Party found 50-60-year-old posters depicting Blessed Willie Brandt playing the harp and advising people to vote for the SPD.
Perhaps the comedy did not end until the CDU began plastering the city streets with pictures of Helmut Kohl.
In Alternativ für Deutschland there are civil war-like conditions, so right-wing (and extreme) populists hardly start any election campaign. There in the yard, they should be happy to score 12 percent from the previous election.
D-Link is losing steam and is now around seven per cent – the trend is declining. For this party, it could end up well below the five percent threshold.
Until the end of April, Annalena Barbock fervently dreamed of forming a coalition government with the CDU – she herself is a leader.
Now there are likely to be so many alliance opportunities that the winner of the election can choose and reject it. Then we will see if there will be a government at all with Annalina Berbuk’s ministerial seat.
A lot can still happen.
As many as 40 percent of voters are undecided. A lot can change before the elections on September 26.
Here are the numbers from the latest INSA poll for Bild:
- SPD 25 percent
- CDU / CSU 20 percent
- Green 16.5 percent
- FDP 13.5 percent
- AfD 11 percent
- left 7 percent
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