The candidate to succeed Angela Merkel of the conservative CDU-CSU coalition in the federal elections on September 26, Armin Laschet , went on the offensive on Sunday night in the first electoral debate, to try to reverse the polls that They give him defeated, but did not convince, according to polls published after the televised battle.
Laschet was measured against the other two main candidates to succeed the chancellor -after 16 years at the head of the German Executive-, the social democrat Olaf Scholz and the environmentalist Annalena Baerbock on the private networks RTL and n-tv.
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A first poll by the Forsa institute released by RTL after the debate gave Olaf Scholz the winner of the great debate as he convinced 36% of those questioned, ahead of the Green candidate, with 30% support, and only 25% for Laschet .
A new poll published on Sunday by the newspaper ‘Bild’ gives a 24% vote intention to the Social Democrats, who distance themselves from the conservatives (21%). The greens would achieve 17%.
Panic at the CDU
According to ‘Bild’ on its pages, Merkel’s CDU and her Bavarian allies in the CSU are in “a state of panic .” Six months ago, they collected 34% of the intention to vote.
The formation of the next government looks complicated, with up to three parties in a coalition that probably includes the liberals of the FDP (12%), who can tip the balance, or even the radical left of Die Linke .
With popularity declining, Armin Laschet acknowledged his difficulties in the first major televised debate of the campaign. “I’ve always faced headwinds, now too,” he said on the air, although he believes he will recover thanks to his “firmness” and “reliability”.
He did not hesitate to criticize the policy in Afghanistan of the current coalition government that is led by his own party, and of which his rival Olaf Scholz is Minister of Finance.
Laschet stirred the fear of an exclusively left-wing government , since the polls do not rule out the possibility of an unprecedented coalition of the SPD social democrats, the environmentalists and the radical left Die Linke.
Scholz, a “merkelized” candidate
For the three candidates, it is “difficult to bear the comparison with Merkel”, still highly appreciated although “not everything has gone so well under her chancellorship”, estimates Ursula Münch, director of the Academy of Political Education of Tutzing.
The magazine ‘Der Spiegel’ lamented “the sad level of the campaign” in the face of the “immense threat” posed by climate change, considered responsible for the deadly June floods in western Germany .
The trend in the polls favors Scholz, 63, the finance minister and vice chancellor of the Merkel-led coalition government. Uncharismatic, his austere and competent campaign has earned him points against rivals who lavished on mistakes.
According to the latest barometer of the public television ZDF, almost half of those polled would elect him as chancellor, against 17% for Laschet and 16% for Baerbock. “Olaf Scholz has become merkelized,” says ‘Der Spiegel’.
Laschet, a 60-year-old regional leader posing as Merkel’s legitimate heir , has offered a wavering and clumsy image during the campaign that calls into question her ability to manage, be it the pandemic or the floods.
Caught by the cameras laughing during a visit to the flood zone, accused of plagiarism in a book … The credibility of the curator is in tatters.
Discontent is raging in the party, which considers it responsible for the “dizzying” drop in voting intention, according to the daily ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’.
For her part, the 40-year-old lawyer Annalena Baerbock, elated in the spring when she led the polls, seems to have burned her cartridges amid accusations of plagiarism , exaggerating her resume or not having declared a cousin.
“It was certainly overestimated,” says Münch, who would have seen wiser for the Greens to have nominated popular party co-chair Robert Habeck.
For many media and political scientists, both environmentalists and conservatives, who counted on the charismatic Bavarian leader Markus Söder, chose the worst candidate.
The debate is the first of a series of three before the vote.