• Germany edition
 
German Election 2013
Merkel launches election campaign in tiny town
Photo: DPA

Merkel launches election campaign in tiny town

Published: 15 Aug 2013 08:34 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Aug 2013 08:34 GMT+02:00

Speaking in the old town square of Seligenstadt near Frankfurt late Wednesday, the woman affectionately dubbed "Mutti" or mum by some made the case that her conservative government is the most successful since reunification in 1990.

Undeterred by some hecklers, she pointed at achievements in health, education and elderly care as she kicked off a whirlwind campaign tour that will see her speak at 56 events in 40 days.

In the enthusiastic crowd of around 1,000 supporters, many waved placards reading "Angie".

"Her speech was extraordinary," gushed one supporter, economics student Christoph Koser, 24. "She manages to engage us in her party because in her programme there is something for everyone."

Merkel, despised in parts of crisis-hit Europe for insisting on tough austerity, is popular in Germany where many see her as a responsible guardian of the public purse.

Pushing her message of fiscal discipline, Merkel told the crowd: "We have seen in Europe what happens when debts are too high. Growth on borrowed money – that's impossible."

The launch ahead of the September 22nd vote came as data released on Wednesday morning showed the German economy grew 0.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013, helping to propel the eurozone out of its stubborn recession

To many observers, calm and pragmatic Merkel, Forbes magazine's most powerful woman in the world, seems an immovable force, and few can imagine she will not stay in power.

"She has become something like the mother of the nation, in quotation marks," said political scientist Oskar Niedermayer of Berlin's Free University. He described her as “carer-in-chief.”

Niedermayer added that in Germany, where the unemployment rate is 6.8 percent, the eurozone crisis seemed like an abstract threat to many, and that "the citizens believe she has steered Germany through the crisis."

"She is also staying out of intra- and inter-party battles and quarrels,” he added. "She has a rather presidential leadership style. She seems unflappable and sober, and the people like that."

Merkel's personal popularity lead over her main challenger Peer Steinbrück of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has narrowed a few points but remains at a commanding 54-23 percent, the latest Forsa institute survey found.

"It will be an extremely personalised campaign ... highly focused on the chancellor," said Martin Koopmann of the Genshagen Foundation think-tank. "Merkel has created a situation in the party where there are very few other high-profile people."

The Forsa poll also gave Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party a 40-23 percent lead over the SPD, and 13 percent for the Social Democrats' campaign ally the Greens.

This would mean that Merkel's party, together with its junior partner the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), which scored five percent, would have a narrow governing majority.

However, if the FDP drops below five percent, it would fail to enter parliament. Such a result would force Merkel to seek new allies – either the Greens, seen as a long shot, or the SPD, with whom she previously ruled in a 'grand coalition' in her first term.

Merkel, 59, has already adopted many centre-left policies, on issues from renewable energy to gay marriage, to gain the political centre, depriving her rivals of issues to attack her on.

Steinbrück, 66, has so far had a difficult campaign, hobbled by gaffes. This week he apologised for saying Merkel's upbringing in communist East Germany made her a less enthusiastic European, comments that offended voters in eastern states.

AFP/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Glass memorial honours Nazi disabled victims
Floral tributes were laid on Tuesday at the new Holocaust memorial in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Glass memorial honours Nazi disabled victims

A 24-metre blue glass wall in Berlin has been unveiled to commemorate the systematic murder of up to 300,000 mentally ill and disabled people under Adolf Hitler. READ  

Germany to help with Mediterranean refugees
Migrants aboard an Italian navy patrol vessel in April 2014. Photo: DPA

Germany to help with Mediterranean refugees

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière on Tuesday pledged support for his Italian colleague in the struggle to manage refugees trying to reach the European Union via its southern coast. READ  

Ice bucket challenge raises €500,000 in a week
Elephant Nelly takes part in the ice bucket challenge in a Lower Saxony safari park. Photo: DPA

Ice bucket challenge raises €500,000 in a week

The coffers of the German Society for Muscular Disease (DGM) are overflowing with donations thanks to the viral craze for videos of donors dousing themselves with ice-cold water. READ  

Russian-German school opens in teeth of conflict
The GRIAT will open in the Russian city of Kazan. Photo: Shutterstock

Russian-German school opens in teeth of conflict

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is pressing ahead with its German-Russian Institute of Advanced Technologies (GRIAT) against a backdrop of international tensions over Ukraine. READ  

Schweinsteiger is new Germany captain: Löw
Photo: DPA

Schweinsteiger is new Germany captain: Löw

Bastian Schweinsteiger will replace fellow Bayern Munich player Philipp Lahm as captain of the German national football team, head trainer Joachim Löw said on Tuesday. READ  

Munich minister resigns in 'model car scandal'
Christine Haderthauer at her resignation press conference in Munich on Monday. Photo: DPA

Munich minister resigns in 'model car scandal'

Christine Haderthauer, head of the Bavarian state chancery, resigned “with immediate effect” on Monday evening over the so-called “model car scandal” in which her company sold scale models built by a man convicted of three sexual murders. READ  

Russia 'severed' from Europe: President Gauck
President Gauck stands shoulder to shoulder with President Komorowski of Poland in Gdansk on Monday. Photo: DPA

Russia 'severed' from Europe: President Gauck

Russia has "effectively severed its partnership" with Europe and wants to establish a new order, German President Joachim Gauck said on Monday. READ  

National Uber ban is revenge of the taxis
Taxis are a powerful trade lobby in Germany. Photo: DPA

National Uber ban is revenge of the taxis

The Frankfurt regional court has imposed a temporary nationwide ban on chauffeur car service Uber, saying that it must pay a €250,000 fine if passengers continue to book rides through its app. READ  

Sex party 'desecrates' Bavarian royal spa
The facade of the Bad Reichenhall Royal Spa Hotel.

Sex party 'desecrates' Bavarian royal spa

The Bavarian finance ministry has demanded a report from the company running a publicly-owned spa in the town of Bad Reichenhall after they rented the property out for a fetish party. READ  

Merkel details Iraq arms shipment to MPs
Angela Merkel addressing the Bundestag on Monday as her ministers look on. Photo: DPA

Merkel details Iraq arms shipment to MPs

UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the Bundestag on Monday to explain her government's decision to send weapons to Iraqi Kurds fighting terrorist group Isis. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten of the oddest things found by German border control
Photo: Gerkan, Marg and Partners/Tegel Projekt GmbH/J. Mayer
Berlin
How will Berlin look in five years' time?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The best of Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit in 14 pictures
Photo: DPA
Politics
Germany sends burgers and sausages to Kurds
Photo: Matthias Kock
National
Tribes, ties and a movie: A German's Afghan life
Photo: DPA
Gallery
10 things to do before summer in Germany is really over
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,408
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd