Angela Merkel: German citizen slams COVID-19 rule 'chaos'
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Just five months out from the national election, a poll-of-polls shows the departing German Chancellor’s party being ousted from government after 16 years at the helm. Electoral defeat for Mrs Merkel’s CDU will come as an embarrassing blow to the veteran politician as she stands down as Germany’s long-serving leader. The aggregate poll, published by Pollytix Strategic Research, puts the Greens in the lead for the first time since June 2019.
Six out of 10 studies published over the last two weeks show an advantage for the little-known party, which only managed to finish in sixth place at the last national elections in 2017.
In a new survey, pollsters Kantar gave the Greens a three-point lead, on 27 percent of the vote.
This would leave Annalena Baerbock, the party’s candidate to become chancellor, in a strong position to select from a variety of coalition partners to form the next government.
There would likely be power-sharing deals with the CDU, the Social Democratic Party, the Greens Democrats or the Social Democratic Party and left-wing Die Like.
Stefan Merz, director of pollsters Infratest Dimap, told the Guardian: “After years of very little movement in the hierarchy of Germany’s political parties, there is now a sense that the deck is being reshuffled and we could be on the threshold of a historic moment.”
He added the Greens would need to maintain their strong polling for two to three weeks for the research to be considered a reliable indicator ahead of the September 26 ballot.
Mr Merz also pointed at the previous elections where Social Democrat Martin Schulz was polling above the ruling CDU but soon slipped as the 2017 vote approached.
The pollster said: “The question is whether the Greens can keep up their momentum once the majority of the country has been vaccinated, the shops reopen and people can go on holiday again.
“If the national debate shifts to the economy at that point, the CDU could regain some lost ground.”
Mrs Merkel has been widely criticised for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic and Germany’s sluggish start to its vaccines campaign.
The country remains under a tough lockdown with its jabs drive only starting to pick up pace in recent weeks.
The Chancellor is under fire in Germany’s conservative media for introducing a legal option to implement a nationwide curfew if Covid infections jump above a certain threshold.
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As a result, Mrs Merkel has told Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa she will not be attending an EU summit hosted by him in Porto.
“In the view of the pandemic situation in Germany and the severe restrictions under which German citizens have to live, the Chancellor has asked to have the possibility of digital participation,” her spokesman Steffen Seibert said last week.
It’s this domestic pressure that experts believe has driven down support if Mrs Merkel’s CDU party in recent weeks.
The ruling conservatives recently selected a continuity candidate in 60-year-old Armin Laschet to run as her successor.
But previous polls and studies show that voters believe the candidate is not fit to make the tough decisions needed to get Germany out of its Covid rut.
Ms Baerbock, the Green candidate, vowed to push through significant reforms when she launched her leadership campaign.
The 40-year-old, who has never held high office, proposed limiting the number of terms a German chancellor can serve – a direct attack on Mrs Merkel’s near 16-year rule.
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“Experience can act as drag, tying you to the past.” Der Spiegel, Germany’s largest weekly news magazine, wrote of Ms Baerbock’s candidacy.
“New, visionary ideas often come from young minds.”
The upcoming election is the first since 1949 in which Germans will go to the polls without the current chancellor standing for reelection.
Matthias Jung, a pollster for research institute Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, said: “When voters go to the polling booth, they tend to focus on their prospects in the future rather than the achievements of the past.
“At best, the high points of the last 16 years will be remembered as a badge of basic competency.
“Merkel’s successes are only inheritable to a very limited degree.”
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