• 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
EU investigates Germany over airport security
Photo: DPA

EU investigates Germany over airport security

The European Commission said on Thursday that it had referred Germany to the EU Court of Justice for failing to regularly check up on its airport security measures at some airports. READ  

Germans want to keep their hands on cash
Germans still trust cash over other forms of payment. Photo: DPA

Germans want to keep their hands on cash

Confirming conservative stereotypes, Germans have come out strongly in favour of sticking to hard cash in conducting transactions, a survey published on Thursday showed. READ  

This week in history
Fassbinder: New German Film's Enfant Terrible
Rainer Fassbinder on set in 1977. Photo: DPA

Fassbinder: New German Film's Enfant Terrible

On Sunday May 31st, Rainer Weiner Fassbinder, one of the most influential German film directors, would have turned 70 - had it not been for his death at the age of 37 in 1982. The Local takes a look back at the life and work of the enfant terrible of New German Cinema. READ  

Cool caps reduce hair loss during chemo
Photo: DPA

Cool caps reduce hair loss during chemo

German scientists are trialling a special scalp-cooling cap which helps reduce hair loss for cancer patients going through chemotherapy. READ  

Industry: 'doped' growth boosting economy
A man assembling food processors in a Wuppertal factory. Photo: DPA

Industry: 'doped' growth boosting economy

The German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) warned on Thursday that a fresh burst of economic confidence might be unfounded, even as they raised their growth projections for 2015. READ  

Slow-moving fighter jet blocks Autobahn traffic
A Eurofighter jet stopped up traffic on Thursday because it was so wide. Photo: DPA.

Slow-moving fighter jet blocks Autobahn traffic

A damaged Eurofighter plane being pulled by a truck along the autobahn was so wide that it blocked three lanes of traffic on its way to being repaired in Bavaria on Thursday, drawing the ire of fellow drivers. READ  

Right-wing leader suffers restaurant attack
AfD co-leader Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA

Right-wing leader suffers restaurant attack

Frauke Petry, co-leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD), was attacked by masked assailants while eating in a restaurant on Wednesday evening. READ  

Court rejects case against US drone strikes
An American MQ-9 "Reaper" unmanned drone. Photo: U.S. Air Force/Paul Ridgeway/dpa

Court rejects case against US drone strikes

A German court on Wednesday rejected a complaint by three Yemenis demanding that Berlin bar Washington from using a US base on its territory to operate deadly drones. READ  

Gay marriage: Germany still says 'No'
A gay couple in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA.

Gay marriage: Germany still says 'No'

Germany's cabinet on Wednesday approved a raft of draft measures to extend the rights of same-sex couples, but faced criticism for allowing only civil unions, not full gay marriage. READ  

Spectre of Greece haunts G7 Dresden meeting
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble welcomes his G7 colleagues to Dresden. Photo: DPA

Spectre of Greece haunts G7 Dresden meeting

Finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of Seven wealthiest nations gathered in Dresden Thursday to discuss the global economy and tax evasion, but the Greek crisis was also high on everyone's minds. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Travel
Why the train strike is bad for passengers and workers
National
Meet Germany's Eurovision hope
Business & Money
Is 2015 a new moment for jobsharing?
Features
How the LGBT rights movement was born in Germany
National
Why you don't make bomb jokes at the airport
National
Why Germany needs a little less tipple
National
Who Germans and Americans trust... and don't
Politics
What the UK election means for Germany
National
Why Germany is great for mums
Features
The Germans with GI dads
Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights
Travel
Giant tortoise found riding Munich rail
National
FCK CPS? A-OK with court
Politics
Opinion: Brexit's dangers for Germany
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Minister shows off top Denglisch
National
Germany's 'other genocide' in Africa
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
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

6,698
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd