• Germany's news in English
 

Merkel in personal pitch as election nears

Published: 21 Sep 2013 09:34 GMT+02:00

"Germany has had four good years," she wrote in a letter mailed to over five million households ahead of Sunday's vote, in which she seeks a third term for her Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

"We have achieved a lot together. I also want the next four years to be good," wrote Merkel, who is dubbed "Mummy" in her country and often called the world's most powerful woman.

"If you want me to keep working as your chancellor, then please give your votes to the CDU on Sunday," said the letter signed "Your Angela Merkel".

Two new polls placed her coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) neck-and-neck at 45 to 45 percent with the combined leftist opposition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and far-left Linke.

However, the Linke, which scored nine percent in both polls, has been rejected as a coalition partner by all major parties.

"We should expect a government in which the conservatives are the strongest

political force and Mrs Merkel very likely the chancellor," said political scientist Gero Neugebauer of Berlin's Free University.

The big question is with whom Merkel would end up governing.

A wild card are small parties that have hovered close to the five-percent mark needed for entry into parliament -- especially the new eurosceptic AfD, which scored 4.0 percent in Friday's Forsa institute poll and 4.5 percent in an Allensbach survey.

Merkel's biggest liability are her junior partners the FDP, who were kicked out of Bavaria's state parliament last Sunday but would, according to the two polls, narrowly scrape by nationally with 5.0 or 5.5 percent.

The FDP, in a desperate bid to hold onto power, has urged conservatives to "split" their ballot by casting district votes for the CDU but giving the Free Democrats their second, or party, vote to save the coalition.

Merkel in her letter implored her supporters to do no such thing and avoid what one newspaper dubbed a "blood transfusion" for the struggling FDP.

Should the smaller party crash out, Merkel would have to seek new partners -- most likely her party's traditional rivals the SPD, with whom she ruled in a previous 2005-09 "grand coalition".

For now the two big parties remain in battle mode, seeking to energise their base and win over millions of undecided voters.

Merkel headed to Munich later Friday on the eve of the world-famous Oktoberfest beer festival, days after the CDU's regional sister party scored a huge victory in Bavaria state.

Her challenger, the SPD's Peer Steinbrück, at a Berlin rally Thursday made a spirited call for more social justice and solidarity in Europe as well as a more muscular leadership than what he labelled Merkel's "going around in circles".

The self-styled "straight talk" candidate has suffered through a series of gaffes and blunders, not helped by a magazine cover photo that showed him giving the middle finger as a non-verbal reply to a question on his limping candidacy.

The image heightened the contrast between brash Steinbrück and what has been called the sphynx-like persona of Merkel, who often sits out problems and avoids polarising language.

The chancellor's campaign trail symbol -- used in a giant placard at Berlin railway station -- is the diamond gesture she makes with her index fingers and thumbs in many photos.

One supermarket chain Friday took out a full-page newspaper advertisement showing a mock ballot paper with pictures of two hand gestures -- one making

the diamond, the other flipping the bird.

"If in doubt," it said, "choose the diamond."

Neugebauer criticised what is widely seen as a shallow campaign focused on symbols not substance.

"There is no discussion about big problems, such as the social split in German society or the problems that exist in Europe," he said.

"When you look at the election campaign, and the likelihood of a grand coalition, you have to conclude that the political culture in Germany has pretty much gone to the dogs."

At Friday's rally in Munich, capital of Germany's conservative heartland Bavaria, Merkel's supporters had no such worries.

"Of course you can criticise and complain about a lot of things but until now, there's been nobody who's done it better than her," said retired shopkeeper Heidmarie Wolf.

AFP

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Sudeten Germans give up 'right to homeland'
Sudeten Germans practising traditional dance at a gathering in 2014. Photo: DPA

Sudeten Germans give up 'right to homeland'

The Sudeten German Homeland Association has given up its claim to the group's former home in parts of the Czech Republic, quieting one of the final echoes of the Second World War. READ  

Minister draws fire over wage transparency plan
Families Minister Manuela Schwesig. Photo: DPA

Minister draws fire over wage transparency plan

Families Minister Manuela Schwesig confirmed on Sunday that she wants a new law allowing women to compare their wages with men doing similar work, provoking angry reactions from employers. READ  

Police wind down Bremen terror response
Heavily-armed police on patrol outside Bremen cathedral. Photo: DPA

Police wind down Bremen terror response

Police in Bremen said that the risk of a terrorist attack had been reduced in the city after they arrested two suspected arms dealers. The city remains under high alert, with special protection for the Jewish community. READ  

Germany's Schäuble softens Greece tone
Photo: DPA

Germany's Schäuble softens Greece tone

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Sunday Greece's new hard-left government needs "a bit of time" but is committed to implementing necessary reforms to resolve its debt crisis. READ  

UK Pegida rally dwarfed by counter-demo
Photo: DPA

UK Pegida rally dwarfed by counter-demo

An estimated 375 people turned out for the Germany-based PEGIDA movement's first demonstration in Britain on Saturday, but were outnumbered by a 2,000-strong crowd of counter-protesters, police said. READ  

Greek PM vows to 'start working hard' after vote
Photo: DPA

Greek PM vows to 'start working hard' after vote

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed Friday to "start working hard" to implement vital reforms in the stricken eurozone country, after Germany's parliament approved a four month extension to its bailout. READ  

Ukraine: troop deaths 'serious breach' of truce
Photo: DPA

Ukraine: troop deaths 'serious breach' of truce

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared the killing of three government troops by pro Moscow rebels a "serious breach of the ceasefire", during a telephone call Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, her office said. READ  

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps
Trouble at the top. Photo: DPA

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps

Germany's highest civil court ruled in favour of a man who swapped the carpet in his new apartment for parquet flooring, incurring the wrath of the retired couple who lived below him over his loud footsteps. READ  

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday
Photo: DPA

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday

Teachers all over the country are expected to stike starting Monday, German education trade union GEW said, after negotiations with the wage commission of the federal states (TdL) failed to achieve results. READ  

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes
Andre Shepherd at the European Court of Justice in June 2014. Photo: DPA

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes

American soldier Andre Shepherd, who applied for asylum in Germany as a conscientious objector against the war in Iraq after going AWOL from his unit, saw a judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) go against him on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
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

3,199
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd