• Germany edition
 
German Election 2013
Merkel in personal pitch as election nears

Merkel in personal pitch as election nears

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

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Court rules against child porn suspect Edathy
Former SPD MP Sebastian Edathy photographed at a press conference in February. Photo: DPA

Court rules against child porn suspect Edathy

The Constitutional Court on Friday rejected an attempt by former Social Democratic (SPD) MP Sebastian Edathy to have evidence against him thrown out in his trial for possession of child pornography. READ  

Student busted in case of misdelivered hash
Photo: DPA

Student busted in case of misdelivered hash

A Bavarian student expecting a cannabis delivery was collared by "Commissioner Fluke" after acting surprised in front of policemen when he saw his letter box was empty. READ  

Security fears block Germany-Israel match
German and Israeli fans cheer in the stands during a friendly in Leipzig in 2012. Photo: DPA

Security fears block Germany-Israel match

A friendly soccer match against Israel marking 50 years of diplomatic ties has been called off amid security concerns and the escalation of the Middle East conflict, the German Football Federation (DFB) said on Friday. READ  

Germany's brain drain is Europe's gain
Inside the terminal at the Frankfurt International Airport. Photo: Shutterstock

Germany's brain drain is Europe's gain

Figures from the European Union show that while many German professionals are able to find work abroad with their well-recognised qualifications, Germany doesn't always extend the same courtesy to foreigners. READ  

S-Bahn arson in support of refugees, group claims
Passengers at Berlin's Ostkreuz station yesterday as information screens relay news of the disruption. Photo: DPA

S-Bahn arson in support of refugees, group claims

A radical left-wing group claimed responsibility on Friday for an arson attack that cut power to several S-Bahn lines and caused transport chaos in Berlin, saying it was intended to awaken people to the plight of refugees. READ  

Pilots' strike over, but disruption continues
Passengers in Hannover check departure boards showing cancelled Germanwings flights. Photo: DPA

Pilots' strike over, but disruption continues

UPDATE: Germanwings pilots have ended their six-hour strike which grounded 116 flights and up to 15,000 passengers of Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings on Friday. READ  

Man narrowly escapes unwelcome drop-in
Emergency services use a crane to lift the fallen crane in Cologne. Photo: DPA

Man narrowly escapes unwelcome drop-in

A Cologne resident was pinned to his bed after a 40-metre construction crane toppled onto his home early on Friday. READ  

'Further sanctions' could hit Russia, says Merkel
Merkel looking grave at Thursday's West Balkan conference in Berlin. Photo: DPA

'Further sanctions' could hit Russia, says Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that European leaders will discuss the worsening Ukraine crisis and possible further sanctions against Russia at a weekend summit. READ  

UK-Germany rivalries live again in Champs League
Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm with fellow World Cup champion Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo: DPA

UK-Germany rivalries live again in Champs League

The 2014-15 Champions League draw yesterday brought déjà-vu for English and German clubs as old opponents found themselves facing off once again. READ  

German of the Week
Animal activist fights off murder threats
Photo: DPA

Animal activist fights off murder threats

Friedrich Mülln has been dragged through the courts and threatened with murder during his years of animal rights activism. His latest court case was in Munich this week but he tells The Local he has no plans to give up the fight. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
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

3,699
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd