Merkel tries to rally votes for fading conservatives

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has appealed to voters to rally behind her slumping conservative bloc (CDU/CSU), with elections to pick her successor less than three weeks away. With her party polling beneath 20 percent, Merkel warned against a slide to the left, if the now-leading Social Democrats win. The candidates bidding to succeed Merkel also made their cases. This may well be her last speech as chancellor in the German Bundestag. The debate was dominated by the campaign: all three chancellor candidates got a chance to speak. And all of them were in full election mode. All three candidates pitched what they would do, if they are part of the government after September’s election.

Chancellor candidate for Merkel’s conservatives, Armin Laschet, praised her 16 years in office for having improved life for many Germans. Social Democrat Olaf Scholz is Merkel’s current Finance Minister, but he is also Merkel’s conservative party’s main contender in the election. He went on the attack. Green candidate, Annalena Baerbock, said: “We need a government that takes responsibility and dares to do something new to ensure climate-friendly prosperity in Germany and a future for the common European Union.” With election day fast approaching, this last debate in the Bundestag may have set the tone for the remaining three weeks of campaigning.