• 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
Shocked fishermen hook a shell of a catch
Locals enjoy the normally tranquil Seeburger See

Shocked fishermen hook a shell of a catch

A couple of friends who went for a quiet spot of fishing on Lake Seeburg in Lower Saxony on Monday got the fright of their life when they pulled up their net to find an artillery shell inside. READ  

10 facts to celebrate Leipzig's 1,000th birthday
Leipzig's impressive skyline. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 facts to celebrate Leipzig's 1,000th birthday

This weekend the city of Leipzig is celebrating its 1,000th anniversary, since it was first mentioned by the chronicler Thietmar of Merseburg in 1015. The Local gives some insight into one of Germany's most vibrant cities. READ  

Police tighten borders ahead of German G7
File photo: DPA

Police tighten borders ahead of German G7

German authorities have reintroduced border controls two weeks before the leaders of the G7 economies gather in Elmau, southern Bavaria. READ  

North Germany feels pain of Russia sanctions
Photo: DPA file photo

North Germany feels pain of Russia sanctions

Schleswig Holstein's exports to Russia have dropped by 31 percent, state finance minister Reinhard Meyer said in comments reported by the Hamburger Abendblatt on Tuesday. READ  

German twins die fighting for Isis in Iraq
The twin brothers are both reported to have died in suicide attacks. Photo: Dabiq magazine

German twins die fighting for Isis in Iraq

German twins from Castrop-Rauxel in North Rhine-Westphalia have died fighting for the Islamist group Isis in Iraq, the militia's official magazine reported in its latest publication. READ  

Toilet theft at interior ministry causes a stink
Photo: DPA

Toilet theft at interior ministry causes a stink

Thieves have stolen toilet seats, taps and loo paper holders from the new interior ministry building in Berlin, making it difficult for mandarins to get comfortable in their new surroundings. READ  

Berlin jumps ahead on new rent control law
Blocks of flats in the Berlin district of Wedding. Photo: DPA

Berlin jumps ahead on new rent control law

Berlin is to be the only state in Germany to introduce rent controls immediately after the law allowing them comes into effect on June 1st. READ  

Ireland vote builds gay marriage momentum
Photo: DPA

Ireland vote builds gay marriage momentum

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is feeling the pressure from opposition MPs, its own gay supporters and its Social Democratic Party (SPD) allies to look again at allowing gay marriage after Ireland's popular "yes" vote on Friday. READ  

Amazon 'paying local tax on sales in Germany'
Photo: Uli Deck/dpa

Amazon 'paying local tax on sales in Germany'

According to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, online retailer Amazon has started paying tax on profits from its sales to German customers in Germany instead of in Luxembourg READ  

German woman, 65, has quadruplets
Photo: DPA

German woman, 65, has quadruplets

A 65-year-old German woman, who already has 13 children, has given birth to quadruplets after undergoing an artificial insemination procedure in Ukraine. 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

6,641
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd