AACHEN, GERMANY – Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Germans on Saturday to cast their ballot for her successor Armin Laschet to shape Germany’s future, in a latest bid to boost his campaign in trouble 24 hours before the vote. .
Laschet, 60, has been behind his Social Democrat challenger Olaf Scholz in the race for chancellor, though recent polls put the gap between them within the bounds of error, making the election one of the most unpredictable races in recent years.
Angela Merkel had planned to maintain a low profile in the election battle as she prepares to leave politics after 16 years in power. But she found herself embroiled in the frantic campaign schedule of her party’s unpopular chairman Laschet.
In the final week of the campaign, Merkel took Laschet in front of her electorate on the Baltic coast and on Friday appeared as the main figure at the closing rally that gathered conservatives in Munich.
Merkel addressed Germany’s predominantly elderly electorate on Friday, urging them to keep the Conservatives in power for the sake of stability – a characteristic call for Germany.
“To keep Germany stable, Armin Laschet must become chancellor, and the CDU and CSU must be the most powerful force,” she said.
The day before the vote, she went to ArminLaschet’s hometown and the Aachen constituency, a town near Germany’s western border with Belgium and the Netherlands, where he still lives.
“It is about your future, the future of your children and your parents,” she said at her last rally before the vote, calling for strong mobilization for her conservative alliance.
Angela Merkel underlined that climate protection will be one of the next government’s main challenges, but said this would not be achieved “simply through regulations”.
“We need new technological developments, new procedures, researchers, interested people who think about how climate protection can be achieved and for people to participate in this effort,” she said.
Mr Laschet is a “bridge-building politician who will engage people” to meet Germany’s future challenges, she said.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets on Friday demanding greater change and climate protection, with a prominent activist calling Sunday’s election the “century” vote.
“The opposite can happen”
As the election approaches, Mr. Olaf Scholz is focusing on his constituency, on the other side of the country, in an effort to gain the support of voters in the final moments of the campaign.
Answering questions from voters in his constituency of Potsdam – a city on the outskirts of Berlin famous for its palaces that once housed Prussian kings – Mr Scholz said he was struggling to bring about “a major change in the country”. , a new government ”led by him.
He also provided a brief description of the future government he hopes to lead, saying, “it may be enough, for example, to form a government between the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens.”
Mr Scholz, the current finance minister in Chancellor Merkel’s coalition government, has avoided campaigning mistakes, and largely won support by presenting himself as the “successor candidate” after Ms Merkel to replace Mr Laschet.
Described as capable but boring, Mr. Scholz has consistently beaten Mr. Laschet by a wide margin when it comes to popularity.
As Germans go to the polls within hours, Mr Laschet’s Conservatives are narrowing the gap, with a poll showing support for them is 1% less than the 26% enjoyed by the Social Democrats.
Mr. Laschet entered the race for chancellor post badly damaged by a fierce battle between the Conservatives to win support as a candidate for the top post. However, his party enjoyed a significant lead over the Social Democrats in the early summer.
But Laschet was seen laughing behind President Frank-Walter Steinmeier as he paid homage to the victims of the deadly floods in July, an image that would drastically change support for him and his party.