Two weeks before the elections, Angela Merkel’s heir, the unpopular Armin Laschet (CDU-CSU), unleashed his blows on Sunday, September 12 against his main opponent, the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz (SPD). From the scarecrow of a coalition with the far left to the specter of court cases, Mr. Laschet attacked his main opponent in the head, sparing the ecologist Annalena Baerbock during a debate between the three main candidates for the chancellery and thus transforming the popular “triell” of the Germans into a duel.
Distanced by the Social Democrats from Mr. Scholz, who has become the favorite in the race for the chancellery, Mr. Laschet does not have much time to stop the fall of the conservatives of the CDU-CSU, who have fallen to a historically low level in opinion polls, around 20%. At the foot of the wall, Mr. Laschet put into practice during this one-and-a-half-hour debate the advice of the conservative hierarchs: to shake up Mr. Scholz, the experienced but devoid of charisma finance minister of the Merkel government.
First angle of attack of Mr. Laschet, the possible coalition that Mr. Scholz could form with environmentalists and especially the extreme left Die Linke, a scarecrow very popular with the conservative camp. “If that gives you a majority, you will form a coalition with the left!” “, launched Mr. Laschet to the social democrat centrist tendency.
Mr. Scholz, without formally ruling out such a coalition, set its conditions: “Anyone who wants to govern in Germany must clearly state that NATO is important for our security”, he asserted in the direction of the extreme left, which calls into question the transatlantic relationship on which Germany relies since 1945.
Mr. Laschet excluded him from any discussion with the far-right AfD party, in fifth position in the polls but still influential in the regions of the former GDR.
“The embodiment of boredom in politics”
Another offensive led by Mr. Laschet, business. He seized on searches carried out on September 9 in a federal agency against money laundering, under the supervision of Mr. Scholz, to attack his opponent. “If my finance minister worked like you, we would have a serious problem”, assailed Mr. Laschet to Mr. Scholz, whose services are suspected of not having transmitted to justice suspicions of laundering of several million euros. He also castigated the reservations expressed by Mr. Scholz on this investigation by the Osnabrück prosecutor’s office: “This is what populists are doing in other countries”.
M. Scholz, described this week by the weekly Der Spiegel like “The embodiment of boredom in politics”, briefly broke away from his civilized tone to castigate “False accusations” of his opponent.
Mr Laschet found himself in difficulty when, pressed by the other two candidates on the subject of climate policy, he had to distance himself from Angela Merkel, recalling that he is not “Not a member of the government”.
Annalena Baerbock, whose party is in third place in the polls, has dismissed her rivals back to back, while conservatives and social democrats have governed together for seven years, embodying, according to her, ” the past “.
Will these attacks be enough to convince the undecided and to re-mobilize a Christian-democratic camp in power for 16 years?
As in the first “triell”, Mr. Scholz was tried on Sunday “The most convincing” (39%), clearly ahead of its two competitors (25%), according to the institute Infratest Dimad. Weakened as never since the Second World War, the conservative camp, favorite until July, now seems to be traversed by a wind of panic.
The Christian Democrats have since been weighed down by the errors of their candidate, in particular a giggle captured by the cameras on the sidelines of a solemn speech by the President of the Republic on an area affected by the summer floods.
Difficult to prepare for her succession and discreet until this summer, Chancellor Merkel herself had to resolve to descend into the arena. This week, she did not hesitate to use the forum of the Bundestag to praise the qualities of the Christian Democratic candidate. The German leader does not mince words and points “The huge difference” which would exist between her and Mr. Scholz, who leads a campaign without glare or false note and goes so far as to imitate, including in the position of the hands, an Angela Merkel always so popular.