• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Merkel launches election campaign in tiny town

The Local · 15 Aug 2013, 08:34

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

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.

AFP/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Train evacuated as passenger flips out during ticket check
Police at the scene in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

A regional train was evacuated in Leipzig on Wednesday after a passenger became aggressive during a ticket inspection.

Man arrested in Wuppertal as part of Spanish Isis raids
Police detain the suspect in Wuppertal. Photo: DPA

Police have arrested five suspected members of an Isis cell in Spain, Belgium and Germany that spread propaganda for the group online, the Spanish interior ministry said Wednesday.

Germans cut home energy usage by six percent in a year
Hamburg at night. Photo: DPA

The Energiewende is the German government's ambitious policy of drastically reducing carbon emissions. New figures show one remarkable success.

Merkel party MP under fire for using Nazi propaganda term
Bettina Kudla. Photo: Büro Bettina Kudla MdB/DPA.

A member of Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party is in hot water after tweeting over the weekend a Nazi propaganda term in her criticism of the country’s refugee policies.

Govt denies planning bailout for troubled Deutsche Bank
Photo: DPA

Germany's finance ministry on Wednesday said the government was "not preparing rescue plans" for Deutsche Bank, denying a newspaper report that state aid was being considered for the embattled lender.

Munich at high risk of housing bubble: report
A view of Munich. Photo: Pexels.com

Considering buying property in Munich? This report might make you think twice.

After fatal hail storm, south Germany set to see sun
The hail storm in Baden-Württemberg on Monday night left the streets looking like a winter landscape. Photo: DPA.

A hail storm in southwest Germany on Monday night led to the death of one woman, but forecasters predict a bit more sun in the days to come.

Police shoot dead father who attacked daughter's abuser
Police at the scene of the shooting in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

Berlin police on Tuesday night shot and killed the father of a young girl at a refugee home as he tried to attack a man who allegedly sexually abused his daughter.

TV celebrity criticized for claiming 70 kg is overweight
Sophie Thomalla. Photo: DPA

Model Sophie Thomalla claimed that promoting models who weigh over 70 kg sets as dangerous an example as skinny supermodels.

UK files show how Spanish spy tricked Nazis over D-Day
Photo: DPA

Secret files released in Britain Wednesday shed new light on how a Spaniard dubbed the greatest double agent of World War II tricked Germany with false intelligence about the D-Day Normandy landings.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
6,591
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd