German election battle intensifies as socialist leader wins televised debate

German election battle intensifies as socialist leader wins televised debate

Journalists and party members watch from the Press Center (LR) Olaf Scholz, German Minister of Finance, Social Democrats (SPD) candidate for chancellor and chancellor, and Armin Lachette, Prime Minister of North Rhine- Westphalia and the Christian Democratic Union. Candidate for chancellor (CDU), he takes part in a televised electoral debate in Berlin on September 12.

John McDougall | AFP | Getty Images

The election race in Germany intensified on Sunday evening during a heated televised debate between three candidates vying to lead the country after the September 26 vote.

Current German Finance Minister and Socialist Democratic Party candidate Olaf Scholz, who currently leads the polls, made a convincing display against his rivals during the debate despite questions about the functioning of his finance ministry.

A Snap poll of 1,750 viewers by broadcaster ARD on Sunday night found that 41% of viewers found SPD’s Scholz to be the most reliable performer in the so-called ‘trial’ – or ‘trial’ – of candidates’ 90 minutes. . He is ahead of 27% for Armin Laschet – the candidate of the Christian Democratic Union and his sister party Christian-Social Union – and 25% for Annalena Beerbock, the candidate of the Greens.

The debate, whose tone was described as “aggressive” by the German media, was widely seen as a duel between Scholz and Laschet, with Barbock occasionally on the ground. An ARD Berlin correspondent described the debate as “two men arguing”, while the Bild newspaper called the debate “an electoral victory for Scholz”. [but] Laschet fights, fights, fights.

Lachette – whose CDU / CSU hopes to succeed outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel – certainly took advantage of the debate to attack Scholz’s record at the finance ministry, with German prosecutors investigating financial intelligence. As part of the raids on the ministries of finance and justice. The unit is an anti-money laundering agency overseen by the Ministry of Finance.

At one point in the debate, Lechette accused Scholz of not supervising the FIU, telling Scholz: “If my finance minister acted like you, we would have a serious problem. Scholz denied the allegations and accused Lachette of making “misconceptions” and distorting the facts surrounding the raid.

“You can see how things are twisted,” Scholz said Sunday night. “Monsieur. Lasquet You have to blame yourself very clearly. There was no investigation by the Federal Ministry of Finance and it is not just the prosecution … there was no question of investigation against this ministry or the justice ministry. You This misconception is deliberately created, ”he said.

Viewers remained confident in Scholz’s ability to take on high-level responsibilities, with 49% saying in a post-debate Snap poll that they found him to be the most capable of candidates, compared to 26% for Lachette and Barrock. against 18% for

The majority of viewers (39%) favor the Greens candidate among the three contenders, even if Scholz is not far behind with 34%. Lachette’s choice rating was low at 18%, however, the rating assigned by ARD may have been due to his more aggressive debate style and his standing among other contenders.

Separately, an election opinion poll published Sunday for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper showed that the SPD had extended its lead over the Conservatives to six points. Last week’s INSA poll of 1,152 people voted for the SPD with 26%, while the Conservatives were behind with 20% and the Greens with 15%.

The voters decide?

Experts say the race for Merkel’s successor is still open, with several postal ballots already cast amid unprecedented levels of postal voting this year.

Fabrice Pothier, chief strategy officer at political consultancy Rasmussen Global, told CNBC on Monday that most people have already decided who to vote for. He noted Monday that “Voting day is two weeks away, but a large majority of Germans have already voted, so this is a campaign where every day is polling day.”

“This is why the result can be unpredictable, and [the vote in] Germany only matters because it is the biggest economy and the biggest decision maker in European affairs, ”he told CNBC’s Squawk Box Europe on Monday.

On the geopolitical side, with the imminent departure of Europe’s de facto leader, Merkel, Germany’s next leader will have his job to do, forging new relationships with other world powers at a time of dynamic changing in international affairs. try to do.

“The key issue on the current agenda is Europe’s role in the new geopolitical competition between the United States and China,” Janka Ortel, policy officer at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told CNBC on Monday. .

“This is particularly relevant for the German economy which is heavily invested in both markets and which is the largest economy in Europe,” she said.

“So for any successor to Merkel, how to place Europe and keep Germany within Europe; and in these difficult questions of decoupling, an economy of de-globalization; , these are the biggest questions on the agenda.

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