• Germany's news in English

Merkel launches election campaign in tiny town

The Local · 15 Aug 2013, 08:34

Published: 15 Aug 2013 08:34 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Speaking in the old town square of Seligenstadt near Frankfurt late Wednesday, the woman affectionately dubbed "Mutti" or mum by some made the case that her conservative government is the most successful since reunification in 1990.

Undeterred by some hecklers, she pointed at achievements in health, education and elderly care as she kicked off a whirlwind campaign tour that will see her speak at 56 events in 40 days.

In the enthusiastic crowd of around 1,000 supporters, many waved placards reading "Angie".

"Her speech was extraordinary," gushed one supporter, economics student Christoph Koser, 24. "She manages to engage us in her party because in her programme there is something for everyone."

Merkel, despised in parts of crisis-hit Europe for insisting on tough austerity, is popular in Germany where many see her as a responsible guardian of the public purse.

Pushing her message of fiscal discipline, Merkel told the crowd: "We have seen in Europe what happens when debts are too high. Growth on borrowed money – that's impossible."

The launch ahead of the September 22nd vote came as data released on Wednesday morning showed the German economy grew 0.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013, helping to propel the eurozone out of its stubborn recession

To many observers, calm and pragmatic Merkel, Forbes magazine's most powerful woman in the world, seems an immovable force, and few can imagine she will not stay in power.

"She has become something like the mother of the nation, in quotation marks," said political scientist Oskar Niedermayer of Berlin's Free University. He described her as “carer-in-chief.”

Niedermayer added that in Germany, where the unemployment rate is 6.8 percent, the eurozone crisis seemed like an abstract threat to many, and that "the citizens believe she has steered Germany through the crisis."

"She is also staying out of intra- and inter-party battles and quarrels,” he added. "She has a rather presidential leadership style. She seems unflappable and sober, and the people like that."

Merkel's personal popularity lead over her main challenger Peer Steinbrück of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has narrowed a few points but remains at a commanding 54-23 percent, the latest Forsa institute survey found.

"It will be an extremely personalised campaign ... highly focused on the chancellor," said Martin Koopmann of the Genshagen Foundation think-tank. "Merkel has created a situation in the party where there are very few other high-profile people."

The Forsa poll also gave Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party a 40-23 percent lead over the SPD, and 13 percent for the Social Democrats' campaign ally the Greens.

This would mean that Merkel's party, together with its junior partner the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), which scored five percent, would have a narrow governing majority.

Story continues below…

However, if the FDP drops below five percent, it would fail to enter parliament. Such a result would force Merkel to seek new allies – either the Greens, seen as a long shot, or the SPD, with whom she previously ruled in a 'grand coalition' in her first term.

Merkel, 59, has already adopted many centre-left policies, on issues from renewable energy to gay marriage, to gain the political centre, depriving her rivals of issues to attack her on.

Steinbrück, 66, has so far had a difficult campaign, hobbled by gaffes. This week he apologised for saying Merkel's upbringing in communist East Germany made her a less enthusiastic European, comments that offended voters in eastern states.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd