• 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

As fresh polls showed a tightening of Germany's election race Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel promised voters they will be in safe hands if she stays leader of Europe's economic giant.

"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
Exchange student 'murderer' stays silent
Police search the area near where Gabriele's body was found in October 2013. Photo: DPA

Exchange student 'murderer' stays silent

The alleged murderer of an exchange student in southern Germany stayed silent in the dock on Tuesday on the first day of his trial. READ () »

European Elections 2014
'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'
Hans-Olaf Henkel (r) celebrates the one-year anniversary of the AfD with leader Bernd Lücke. Photo: DPA

'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'

In an interview with The Local, one of the leaders of Germany's eurosceptic party talks about Europe's future, why Britain is a model country and why he will not work with UKIP's Nigel Farage. READ () »

Girls find live munition in Easter bonfire
Nane, with her father and a picture of the cartridge-laden wood. Photo: DPA

Girls find live munition in Easter bonfire

Two 12-year-old German girls found live ammunition lodged into a branch in an Easter bonfire. It was due to be lit the next day, potentially igniting the cartridges and causing disaster. READ () »

Opinion
'Fracking won't save Germany from Putin'
Photo: DPA

'Fracking won't save Germany from Putin'

Germany's reliance on Russian gas continues to limit the nation's diplomatic leverage in the Ukraine crisis. But as leaders once again explore fracking as an alternative, critics told The Local the risks were too high. READ () »

German rapper-turned-jihadist 'killed in Syria'
Deso Dogg. Photo: YouTube screenshot

German rapper-turned-jihadist 'killed in Syria'

UPDATE: A German former rapper who joined jihadists fighting in Syria was reported dead on Tuesday by jihadist sources, but hours later some retracted the claim, saying he was still alive. READ () »

Have Your Say
Who should pay for Germany’s roads?
Photo: DPA

Who should pay for Germany’s roads?

A top politician's suggestion that drivers should be charged €100 a year towards the upkeep of Germany's roads was met with derision on Tuesday. But how should Germany fill the black hole it its infrastructure budget? READ () »

Tax income hits March record
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Tax income hits March record

A record amount of cash flowed into German government coffers in March thanks to land, beer and incomes taxes, a monthly report from the finance ministry revealed on Tuesday. READ () »

Union bosses call for later starts in World Cup
Photo: DPA

Union bosses call for later starts in World Cup

German unions called on Tuesday for shift workers to be granted later starts during the football World Cup in Brazil this summer. Some of the matches begin at midnight due to the time difference. READ () »

Parents' house burnt as son went clubbing
Photo: DPA

Parents' house burnt as son went clubbing

A man who had thrown a party at his parents' empty mansion over Easter in central Germany returned after clubbing to find the entire building on fire. READ () »

Cologne secure return to Bundesliga
Fans rushed on to the pitch on Monday night to celebrate promotion. Photo: DPA

Cologne secure return to Bundesliga

Cologne will be back in the top tier of the Bundesliga next season after wrapping up the second division title on Monday evening. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Society
Crystal meth use hits record level
Photo: DPA
Rhineland
Elderly man taped €200,000 to his genitals
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
What's the unemployment rate in your area of Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
Gallery
World War I in colour photos
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
School kids hospitalized after 'porno' party
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Munich's baby polar bears are finally named
Advertisement:
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

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

3,050
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd